24 Dealing With Bereavement in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).


PURPOSE OF STUDY: To determine if post-mortem family conferences would have a positive impact on the healing process of families who experience the loss of their newborn. Through a questionnaire, we evaluated our experience and effectiveness in dealing with multiple aspects of the family's loss. We further evaluated our experience with the loss of a newborn to formulate a model in bereavement.METHODS: We identified 370 newborns that expired in our NICU over an 11 year period (1994 – 2005). Under IRB approval, we sent a questionnaire to evaluate the family's emotional, social and vocational adaptation after the loss. Of the 370 families identified, 104 were excluded due to no forwarding address and/or incomplete database. Of the remaining 266 families, 29 (11%) responded.RESULTS (N = 29) Table 1Of the 29 responses, 10(34%) of the families participated in a post-mortem conference versus 19(66%) who did not. There was a decreased reported intensity in the grieving process in those participating in a post-mortem conference. Ninety percent recalled meeting with the Neonatal team, and 10% with the Obstetrical team. Of the 29 responses, 8(28%) autopsies were performed, 12(41%) declined and 9(31%) were not offered. There was 1(3%) post-loss divorce. Of the 22 who worked prior to delivery, all returned to work post loss. Almost half of those responding had subsequent children.CONCLUSIONS: Based on our data, a specific bereavement team should be identified to implement a consistent approach and follow up for families that experience the loss of a newborn. A post mortem conference appears to reduce the intensity of the grieving process and provide comprehensive support. Offering this conference should be mandatory. Autopsy consent and obstetrical involvement can be improved. This approach can provide experience and education in this humanistic side of medicine relevant to all members of the healthcare team who care for critically ill newborns.

DOI: 10.1203/00006450-200510000-00054

Cite this paper

@article{Stamboliu200524DW, title={24 Dealing With Bereavement in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).}, author={L Stamboliu and A Fyten and B Kanzia and Jonathan K. Muraskas}, journal={Pediatric Research}, year={2005}, volume={58}, pages={820-820} }