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Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life: CODA
September 20, 2006

Sudden Traumatic Death in Children: “We Did Everything But Your Child Didn't Survive”

JAMA. 2006;296(11):1393. doi:10.1001/jama.296.11.1393

On June 14, 2006, Truog et al1 presented the case of an 18-month-old toddler, Lindy, who was brought to the hospital with severe head injury after being struck by a car. In caring for children who become suddenly and catastrophically ill, clinicians must simultaneously attend to the complex and rapidly evolving medical situation, as well as to the equally important task of establishing compassionate relationships with family members and communicating well with colleagues. Lindy's condition evolved from prognostic uncertainty to the diagnosis of brain death, and ultimately, the decision to donate her organs. The clinicians established a trusting bond with family members as they navigated the medical and emotional pathways attendant to this traumatic event. This case illustrates the importance of interdisciplinary communication, the vital role of social workers and others with expertise in working with families in crisis, as well as the critical significance of mutual care and support for the clinicians who accompany families through these tragic life events.

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