Expert advice

Legal advice: The legality of verifying death in a residential home

I work in a residential home for older people. Can I verify or certify that someone has died during the night instead of calling out a general practitioner?

Question: I work in a residential home for older people. Can I verify or certify that someone has died during the night instead of calling out a general practitioner?

We need to clarify the difference between verifying death and certifying death. Verification is confirming that life is extinct. Nothing more. However, certifying death is when a registered medical practitioner – one who has been in attendance during the final illness – provides a medical certificate that states the cause of death and which can be registered at the Registrar’s Office.

It is the medical certificate that effectively ends the person’s legal existence and is the legal responsibility of the registered medical practitioner. It cannot be written or issued by anyone not on the GMC register. Therefore, you would not be able to certify the death of one of your residents.

You can verify death in certain

...

Want to read more?

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs