The after-death call to family members: academic perspectives

Acad Psychiatry. 2008 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-5. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.32.2.132.


Objective: The authors discuss clinical and teaching aspects of a telephone call by the treating clinician to family members after a patient dies.

Methods: A MEDLINE search was conducted for references to an after-death call made by the treating clinician to family members. A review of this literature is summarized.

Results: A clinical application of the after-death call is proposed, with emphasis on a "no regrets" approach. The authors also discuss the management of "at risk" situations, and end with teaching points.

Conclusion: The after-death call is an example of "best practices" in the care of every patient, and can be used to teach residents and students of all disciplines. Primary care providers and consultation psychiatrists may find this valuable as they communicate with families in the sensitive and often traumatic context after a patient dies.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Benchmarking*
  • Confidentiality / psychology
  • Curriculum
  • Death*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Emotions
  • Hospice Care / psychology
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Mentors / psychology
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Psychiatry / education*
  • Telephone
  • Terminal Care / psychology