Here are 12 important steps that pediatricians can take to support families after the sudden death of a child.
In first 48 hours: Call the family upon receiving notification of death to express condolences and assess for necessary support.
At 2 weeks: Call the family and offer to have a face-to-face meeting to discuss the death of the child/answer questions meet with siblings/assess for need for referrals for support groups/mental health or medical referrals (cardiology/neurology/genetics).
Utilize the resources on the SUDC website to familiarize yourself with recommendations for screening for siblings and bereavement resources for families.
Connect the family with local bereavement support resources; for example, support groups through local churches and The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents of the USA.
Continue to contact the family (if desired) at least monthly to assess for ongoing needs, recognizing that needs may change over time.
When the autopsy is complete, offer to read it with the family. Offer to be present at the meeting with the medical examiner to explain the results.
Facilitate research opportunities for the family, if desired, for more genetic testing/further evaluation.