Research Article

Management of sudden bereavement in the accident and emergency department.

BMJ 1992; 304 doi: (Published 09 May 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;304:1207
  1. M. W. Cooke,
  2. H. M. Cooke,
  3. E. E. Glucksman
  1. Accident and Emergency Department, King's College Hospital, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess facilities available for the suddenly bereaved in accident and emergency departments and variations in care of bereaved relatives. DESIGN--Postal questionnaire survey. SETTING--England and Wales. SUBJECTS--All 98 accident and emergency departments treating over 50,000 patients a year, 78 of which replied. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Number of departments with specific facilities, staff training, and procedures for dealing with bereavement. RESULTS--60 hospitals had a specific room for bereaved relatives; the remainder used multipurpose rooms. In 49 hospitals relatives were taken to the room by a nurse with sole responsibility for caring for them. In 40 hospitals the nurse stayed with the relatives and 66 updated relatives on the patient's condition. Facilities for viewing the body privately were poor, and relatives often had to ask to be left alone. 25 departments gave no written information on bereavement and only four routinely followed up relatives. Further training was requested by staff in 44 departments. CONCLUSIONS--Although facilities could be improved, immediate care of relatives is good. Care over subsequent weeks and preparation for this period is invariably inadequate.