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EMS Treatment of Families in an Ambiguous Out-of-Hospital Child Death: The Role of Attribution Errors

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Sometimes children die from maltreatment. However, when first responders enter a scene to save the life of a dying child, the cause of the health problem cannot be immediately determined. EMS professionals are taught to enact the medically appropriate protocols in a family-centered way. This study examines five case studies of infant deaths. When there is ambiguity as to why the death might have occurred, EMS and other emergency personnel seem to be more judgmental and this attitude affects their behavior toward family members. Family members have a more difficult time coping with the loss as a result.
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Keywords: Attributions; EMS; child death; coping

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA 2: Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA 3: Pediatric Bereavement Care Program, Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Healthcare, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Publication date: October 3, 2017

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