Emergency physician responses to families following patient death
Responses of emergency physicians when they interact with families after a death and their subsequent contact with survivors were examined. Questionnaires were sent to 138 Oregon emergency physicians and completed by 114 (83%). The number of deaths (mean +/- SD) encountered by emergency physicians was 17 +/- 15 per year. The majority of physicians (76%) usually notified the family in person and spent an average of 15 +/- 11 minutes with the family. Subsequent contact with survivors, such as sending sympathy cards, making follow-up calls, or reporting autopsy results, was relatively infrequent. While 94% of our sample group reported a need for training in this area, less than one half received any training during medical school or residency. We suggest implementation of educational programs for physicians and development of outreach programs for survivors.
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