top of page

What To Do When Someone Dies

If Someone Dies at Home?

When a death that has been expected occurs at home or at a nursing home, the doctor who has been treating the deceased should be contacted.  Provided the deceased has seen a doctor during their final illness (within the previous 14 days) the doctor or a colleague will either attend to confirm that death has occurred or will give permission for the deceased to be brought into our care if it is your wish for this to happen.


If Someone Dies in Hospital?

If someone has been a hospital in-patient dies, the doctors treating them will usually be able to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.  The ward staff, doctor, or hospital’s bereavement office should tell you what you need to do to collect this certificate, but if they have not, we can advise on whereabouts.


Most hospitals will give family members the opportunity to sit with their loved one before transfer from the ward or private room.  There may even be a chapel of rest at the hospital specifically for this purpose.  The deceased will then be taken to the mortuary from where they will be brought into our care once the hospital has finalised the necessary paperwork.


The Doctor Says He Won’t Issue The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.  Why is This?

If the doctor will not issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, it is usually because the circumstances surrounding the death mean it should be referred to H. M. Coroner for further investigation.  The doctor can only complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if they know the cause of death having seen the deceased for this illness in the 14 days prior to death occurring.  The doctor cannot issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if the patient.

  • Has died a violent or unnatural death

  • Has died a sudden death of which the cause is unknown

  • Has died in prison or in such a place or in such circumstances as to require an inquest under any other Act.


Suppose the death does not fall into these criteria but the deceased underwent an operation shortly before death or there is a suggestion of a possible industrial disease. In that case, it is probable that the doctor will not complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death but refer the death to H. M. Coroner in whose sub-district the death occurred.

If the death is referred to H.M. Coroner their office will arrange for the deceased to be taken to their mortuary in order that the death can be investigated and, if necessary, an inquest opened.

What Does Her Majesty’s Coroner Do?

Coroners are independent judicial officers who investigate deaths reported to them. They will make whatever inquiries are necessary to find out the cause of death, this includes ordering a post-mortem examination, obtaining witness statements and medical records, or holding an inquest.

bottom of page