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Adaptation, Crisis intervention, Debriefing, Maternal mortality, Pregnancy



  1. Dietz, Deborah MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM


The death of a mother in a perinatal unit is a devastating event for the family and for the perinatal staff. An unexpected maternal death may be considered a critical incident, requiring leadership to reflect on the emotional well-being of all the staff who were involved in the patient's care. In order to assist staff in coping with the impact of a maternal loss, the organization and leadership team can apply the principles of debriefing, during which an expert in crisis intervention works to help the group recognize both healthy and unhealthy coping skills, and follows up with affected individuals who require ongoing help. This article presents a review of different techniques of debriefing, applies debriefing to maternal loss, and provides a review of coping skills for nurses. The leadership team's support is essential to promoting healthy coping and emotional healing when a tragedy occurs on the perinatal unit.