Improving interdepartmental communication following a patient death

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Improving interdepartmental communication following a patient death

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When patients die in emergency departments (EDs), it is important to record information that can be shared with staff in other departments, such as the mortuary and bereavement office. This can be a time-consuming exercise but, if information is omitted, it can increase families’ distress by delaying documents such as death certificates.

This article describes how a new, tick-box-style death-in-department checklist was introduced in a London hospital adult ED to increase and improve communication and information sharing between the ED, the mortuary and the bereavement office.

Audits undertaken before and after the introduction of the checklist show a 75% increase in the recording and sharing of information between relevant departments. The positive effect of the new checklist has led to its introduction in another, associated ED, and it has been incorporated into the trust’s end of life care policy.

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