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Verification of Death by Nurses in Community Care Settings
  1. Dr Wendy-Jane Walton, General Practitioner
  1. Wendy-Jane Walton is a General Practitioner with a special interest in palliative care, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Primary Care Trusts. Email: wendy-jane{at}nhs.net

Abstract

The involvement of healthcare professionals, including nurses, does not stop once a patient has died. Caring for dying people at home requires the use of care pathways that include care after death. Nurses are the health professionals most commonly present at the time of a patient’s death. They are therefore ideally placed to verify that a person has died and provide support and information to the bereaved. Developing a local policy and training programme regarding verification of death supports health professionals, helps to avoid potential legal pitfalls and ensures standard procedures are followed. Having a policy in place promotes seamless care for patients and relatives, avoids delays after a patient has died and creates confidence in staff members undertaking the verification of death. This article will examine the procedures associated with verifying a patient’s death, the legal and clinical requirements, issues associated with expected and unexpected death and when to involve the coroner, spiritual and cultural concerns and information required by relatives. Conflicts of interest: none

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