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Utah Child Fatality Review Committee

In 1992, the Utah Department of Health established the Utah Child Fatality Review Committee (CFRC). The CFRC was charged with the review of the circumstances and cause of all childhood deaths in the state. The purpose of the CRFC is to develop a better understanding of child deaths in order to reduce the number of intentional and unintentional deaths of Utah children. Often, this involves improving the response of various agencies in the investigation of child deaths to prevent future deaths.

Child death review teams are seen as a way to use a public health model of prevention through the review of child deaths. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a policy statement supporting federal and state legislation to enhance the child death review process. The AAP also recommended that pediatricians become involved in reviews in their local areas (1).

The committee published its first Child Fatality Review Report in 2003. A second report, Child Injury Deaths in Utah 2005-2007, was released in November 2011.

The goals of the CRFC are to:

  1. Identify and describe the prevalence of risk factors among deceased children by studying and reporting trends and patterns of child deaths in Utah.
  2. Maximize resources through interagency collaboration to identify and describe the service delivery of the involved systems (medical, human services, and law enforcement) to high-risk children, and make policy recommendations to improve the service systems to better meet the needs of all families involved with these systems.
  3. Promote effective prevention strategies to reduce the number of child deaths.
  4. Refer issues and propose strategies to appropriate organizations and agencies to promote education and prevention.

The CFRC meets once a month to review deaths of all Utah children (ages 0-18) who died within the three months prior, as well as any recent suspicious cases, and which were identified by the Office of the Medical Examiner (OME). These include homicides, suicides, suspicious or undetermined deaths, as well as any sudden and unexpected deaths. This death review process provides a detailed understanding of how and why child deaths occur in Utah.

Committee Membership

Utah’s Child Fatality Review Committee includes representatives from the following agencies:

  • Utah Department of Health, Violence and Injury Prevention Program
  • Office of the Medical Examiner
  • Bureau of Vital Records
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Reproductive Health
  • Department of Human Services (DHS)
  • Division of Mental Health
  • Division of Child and Family Services
  • Office of Service Review (DHS Fatality Review)
  • Valley Mental Health
  • Utah State Office of Education
  • Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office
  • Primary Children’s Medical Center
  • Utah Attorney General’s Office, Children’s Justice Division
  • Utah Attorny General’s Office, Child Protection Division
  • Administrative Office of the Courts
  • Juvenile Justice Services
  • Utah law enforcement agencies

Periodically, other members are invited to attend reviews if they are involved in a case. These include representatives from support services, day care centers, and child advocacy centers.

Detailed information about the review process can be found in the Child Injury Deaths in Utah, 2005-2007 report.

References

(1) Policy Statement Child Fatality Review. Christian CW, Sege RD, The Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, The Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, and The Council on Community Pediatrics. Pediatrics 2010;126;592-596; originally published online Aug 30, 2010; DOI 101542/peds 2010-2006.