Death of a child in the emergency department

Pediatrics. 2014 Jul;134(1):e313-30. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-1246.


The death of a child in the emergency department (ED) is one of the most challenging problems facing ED clinicians. This revised technical report and accompanying policy statement reaffirm principles of patient- and family-centered care. Recent literature is examined regarding family presence, termination of resuscitation, bereavement responsibilities of ED clinicians, support of child fatality review efforts, and other issues inherent in caring for the patient, family, and staff when a child dies in the ED. Appendices are provided that offer an approach to bereavement activities in the ED, carrying out forensic responsibilities while providing compassionate care, communicating the news of the death of a child in the acute setting, providing a closing ritual at the time of terminating resuscitation efforts, and managing the child with a terminal condition who presents near death in the ED.

Keywords: death of a child; emergency department.

Publication types

  • Technical Report

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autopsy
  • Bereavement*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Organizational Policy
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Resuscitation
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement