In the event of a Sudden Unexpected Death – Rapid Response Guidance

The  majority of sudden unexpected deaths in infancy are natural tragedies, but a minority are a consequence of ignorance, neglect or abuse. Investigations should keep an appropriate balance between medical and forensic requirements and should take account of possible risks to other children in the household.

Professionals should approach with an open mind and families should be treated with sensitivity, discretion and respect.

There should be  a multi-agency approach involving collaboration among: emergency departments staff, ambulance, staff, child protection co-ordinators, coroners , coroners officers, GP's , health visitors, midwives, paediatricians, pathologists, police and social workers.

Over the years, detailed study of sudden infant deaths has led to the recognition of factors that are of importance in understanding and preventing such tragedies (e.g. the infant's sleeping position, parental smoking, inappropriate sleeping environments). It is therefore important that this investigative approach is emphasised in all dealings with the bereaved family . The increasing ability to identify metabolic and other medical causes of sudden death in infancy and the mounting (and reasonable) expectation of parents that such conditions should be identified requires a wide and pt ot date knowledge of the famililarity withthe literature in this field, together with considerable experience in the recogniation of particular patterns of presentation of different conditions. Sudden unexpeced deaths in infancy (SUDI) are now far less common than in the past.

The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Multiagency Protocol gives guidance for sudden and unexpected deaths and how each agency should respond.