After a young sudden cardiac death expert pathology is essential. Coroners do not sometimes have the funds to access a service where they can refer complex cases to an expert pathologist. This means that, many deaths are simply recorded as unascertained or, incorrectly, such as epilepsy, asthma or drowning. Experts believe that most of these tragedies are due to sudden cardiac death.
In 2008 CRY’s fundraisers facilitated the establishment of the CRY Centre for Cardiac Pathology (CRY CCP) – a centre of excellence for a fast-track expert cardiac pathology service for bereaved families. The CRY CCP was originally based at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London and is currently based at St George’s Hospital, Tooting.
CRY provides this service, funding the cost of coroners’ referrals, so that families no longer have the ordeal of a protracted wait for the cause of death of their child or partner. When a cause of death is unascertained and the person is aged 35 years or under, the centre will provide a free fast-track cardiac diagnostic service.
The examination and report from the centre will be completed on average within two weeks. When pathology is not referred to this centre, it can take up to two years for an expert investigation to be conducted. Expert pathology is essential to help the family understand the cause of death. This information will guide clinical decisions when assessing the first degree blood relatives. The importance of correct pathology cannot be overstated as it gives families the opportunities to obtain valid answers about the cause of death and to quantify the risk posed to other family members. When expert pathology is not conducted, the family could be offered inappropriate clinical tests and there is the potential for false reassurance.
As well as providing a support service for bereaved families, the work conducted as this centre is resulting in ground breaking research to improve our understanding of the causes of young sudden cardiac death.
Cost – Approximately £200,000 a year
Timeline – Ongoing