Taking post-mortem pictures

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    Is this a practice at any of your facilities? I know it's pretty common in NICU and L&D as part of a remembrance package, but what about in your pediatric facilities?

    We had a patient pass away recently and after I had gotten him washed, removed the tubes and lines, combed his hair, dressed him and wrapped him in a blanket, he looked better than he had in months. I thought it might be a good idea to take a picture in case the family wanted one for later, but I wasn't sure if we had a policy for this or if I could get in trouble, since patient photos are a big issue of privacy.

    We did do handprints and footprints in ink for the parents to take with them, and they had family photos taken a month or two before as part of one of our "pictures of hope" programs for kids with cancer. I'm just curious what you do at your facility in regard to photos of a child after he or she has passed.
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  4. 4
    Our hospital sometimes offers the services of our staff photographer to families of children who have been on the unit for a long stay and who are actively dying. It's the family's choice whether the photos are taken pre- or post-mortem. I'm not sure who pays for the printing costs, but I've seen some of the photos and they're beautiful.

    A few years ago I took some photos of one of our special kids who had been with us for several weeks. She had a very poor prognosis from the beginning and the family knew that. We did every reasonable thing for this child and on the night I took the photos another RN and I had put her in the bathtub for the first time in weeks. She looked so happy that I just HAD to get some photos of her. When I spoke to her mom later in the evening I told her what I had done and told her that I would email her the images then delete them from my computer. She told me that I was welcome to keep them as long as I didn't share them. Sadly that was the last really good night the little one had, and I was told later that the photos I took that night were incorporated into her memorial service. It's a good memory for me.
    jmsnkids, nursel56, BelgianRN, and 1 other like this.
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    Thoughtful and thought-provoking thread and response. Just FYI, my parents had their only picture of my stillborn brother, swaddled, from a 1953 hospital pix. My mom kept in in her wedding album.
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    This made me tear up. I'm glad she had that picture.

    ETA: in response to the post above this one.
    DeLanaHarvickWannabe likes this.
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    I originally worked in the NICU. I am very passionate about bearevement and in the nicu photographs are very common. Even if the parents didn't want them we would take a few, put them in a sealed envelope and give them to the parents to have if they ever decided they wanted them. I now work peds cicu, where the majority of our deaths are infants. I have found here that nurses are not as comfortable with the picture taking though the social worker will take them...but she's not around at 2 in the morning. I have been trying to work on this in the current unit but its a very different atmosphere than the NICU was. Nurses have a much harder time with the deaths I think than they did in the nicu, maybe there is more death in the nicu, I don't know. That being said the last pt I had that died in the CICU (an infant) we took pictures of, though I have not heard of this being done for older children. I wouldn't be against it though.
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    There is a non-profit organization called "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" that has provided pictures (both post and pre-mortem). If you read the stories you will find that the families that have used the service are eternally grateful to have something more than just memories of their beloved children. Although the pictures are primarily infants there are some of older children and I don't believe that the organization makes any age stipulation.

    Stories - Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
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    Quote from FlyingScot
    There is a non-profit organization called "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" that has provided pictures (both post and pre-mortem). If you read the stories you will find that the families that have used the service are eternally grateful to have something more than just memories of their beloved children. Although the pictures are primarily infants there are some of older children and I don't believe that the organization makes any age stipulation.

    Stories - Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
    This is a wonderful program. There is an age restriction, they only do infants due to photographer availability (if you read the terms on their website they will occasionally make an exception for a chronically ill older child but it's rare and on an individual basis). I tried to get this program into my NICU but there was so much red tape, I was literally talking with the head of the hospitals LEGAL department trying to make it work but they wouldn't budge. I was very upset about it :-(
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    Quote from Ashley, PICU RN
    Is this a practice at any of your facilities? I know it's pretty common in NICU and L&D as part of a remembrance package, but what about in your pediatric facilities?

    We had a patient pass away recently and after I had gotten him washed, removed the tubes and lines, combed his hair, dressed him and wrapped him in a blanket, he looked better than he had in months. I thought it might be a good idea to take a picture in case the family wanted one for later, but I wasn't sure if we had a policy for this or if I could get in trouble, since patient photos are a big issue of privacy.

    We did do handprints and footprints in ink for the parents to take with them, and they had family photos taken a month or two before as part of one of our "pictures of hope" programs for kids with cancer. I'm just curious what you do at your facility in regard to photos of a child after he or she has passed.
    My hospital doesn't do pictures. We also do hand and foot prints but in cement type mold for parents.
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    When I worked in the hospital, there were often photographers from "Flashes of Hope" to take pictures of the kids as they were nearing the end. Those photographers didn't do post-mortem pictures. We always did hand/foot prints in clay- sometimes they were done before the child passed and sometimes after, depending on the family's preference. The vast majority of the children I saw die in the hospital were DNR/comfort care patients so there was a lot of opportunity to talk to the parents about what they wanted. If parents wanted to take post-mortem pictures, we would absolutely let them. In most of these cases, since the children were ill for so long, the parents ended up being involved in every part of their death, including post-mortem care.
    Luckyyou likes this.
  12. 0
    At our hospital the social worker organises for that to happen, and it's done through various charity organisations and organisations/companies that do it just to be kind. One charity focuses just on the oncology children, another on neonates, and some others on the rest of the hospital.


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