When Someone Dies in Hospital

When the Cause of Death is Known:

When the cause of death is known the medical staff, who have been directly involved in the medical care of the person who has died, will give you a document called a Medical Certificate which states the Cause of Death. This Medical Certificate is required to Register the Death.

If a Funeral Director is being used, they can be contacted at any time. But when the Funeral Director hasn’t been chosen, there is more time available to you to decide as the person who has died is, while all-be-it still in the hospital, they are safe and being well cared for.

When the cause of death is known the Death has to be Registered at the Registrar within 5 days and in the same District that the Death has occurred (England & Wales) and within 8 days in any District for deaths that occur in Scotland.

When using a Funeral Director they will normally ask on the first phone call if the personal who has died is having a Cremation or a Burial. If the funeral is to be a cremation then the Funeral Directors will then contact the hospital to arrange for the cremation forms to be completed.

For instances where families are arranging the funeral themselves and it is a cremation that is going to take place, the family should call the hospital Bereavement Services Office at the Hospital and explain that they need the Cremation Forms.

Cremation forms that are completed by the Hospital Doctors normally take around 5 days and the Hospital will contact either the Funeral Director or the person who has ordered them to advise that they are ready for collection.

In order to collect the person who has died from the Hospital the person(s) collecting the deceased must have the Green Form from the Registrar and the release form from the hospital (the mortuary release form may be given to the family with the Medical Certificate or it may be given to the Funeral Director).

When the Cause of Death is Unknown, Unexpected or Unnatural:

When a death occurs which falls within certain criteria and/or the cause of death is unknown or unnatural a Doctor cannot complete a Medical Certificate and must report the death to the Coroner for investigation. The medical staff that was looking after the person will advice you that the death is being reported to the Coroner. Reason why Deaths are reported to the Coroner.

When a death is reported to a Coroner the Coroner’s Liaison Officers will normally contact the family of the person who has died, if not they can be contacted though the Coroners office and will give guidance and updates on their progress.

When a death has been reported to the Coroner there is no requirement to register the death – a death cannot be registered until the coroner concludes their investigation or until after the Inquest.

The Coroner may order a Post-Mortem Examination to be carried out or they may be satisfied that the Coroner’s Investigations can be completed without the need to a Post-Mortem Examination. The Coroner will release the body with the relevant paperwork to enable the funeral to go ahead.

Funeral arrangements can be made prior to the coroner releasing the body and when the funeral is being arranged through a Funeral Director they can be contact while the Coroner is carrying out their investigations.

For instances where a family is not using a Funeral Director the Coroners Liaison Officer will be a good source of guidance for the forms and paperwork that the Coroner will provide to enable the funeral to go ahead.