Quote from kcangel
For last several years our NICU bereavement team has done post mortem photos, with or without the parents present or approval. A few weeks later when we send home the infant loss kit (molds if they come out, hair, footprints, book, etc) we would send the pictures too. We've never had a problem with this until just recently a parent complained because she/he apparently didn't like us doing the pictures (I don't know the reason, I haven't asked yet). So now all post mortem pics in the entire hospital are on hold (pediatric hospital).
I'm on the nusing ethics forum and will be using this as a topic in a couple of months so I'm doing a little research. Any input would be appreciated.
I am pre-nursing, but I was a bereavement specialist in a hospital for two years. I also am the VP of the MISS Foundation, which is an organization that provides services to families in crisis after the death of a child. I also travel around the country doing inservices for hospitals on this and other topics related to caring for families who experience the death of a child. I would be happy to assist you if you would like to contact me privately with specific questions and can point you towards research that could be helpful.
In general, however, what I suggest is that parents be included in all of these decisions. There may be some cultural issues with picture taking. Sometimes the parents will initially refuse, but it can be revisited - gently - as the news of their child's death begins to sink in. Since these may be the only pictures the family have holding their child, I would always try to include them in the process. I would never mail pictures to a family. They may have no one there to support them when the "surprise" comes in the mail. We went to digital equipment and I was able to take pictures and print them before they left the hospital. I also know that in our ER and those in many of the hospitals I have taught in, staff was not allowed to take hand or footprints if it was a coroner's case. In fact, sometimes our ME would not allow us to even take a lock of hair. It is worth checking with your county coroner's office.
In general, pictures and mementos are treasures to families. I have facilitated parent support groups for many years and more often than not, parents bring their pictures and share them with us and with other parents. Many also make memory books. Hope this helps....