Verification of death

Verification of death is confirmed once the following clinical facts are established:

  • The carotid pulse is not detected over a period of one minute
  • Heart sounds are not heard through a stethoscope over a period of one minute
  • Respiratory movements are absent over a period of one minute
  • Breath sounds are absent over a period of one minute
  • Pupils are seen to be fixed and dilated and do not react to light
  • Above five re-established when repeated after a period of three minutes​

There will be situations that will prohibit the nurse verification of resident’s death and in these situation the GP must be informed immediately. It will be for the GP to certify the resident’s death and to notify the Coroner Office.

Circumstances that should prohibit the Nurse Verification of a resident’s death are inclusive of:

  • The death has occurred suddenly and un-expectantly
  • The resident has died within 24 hours of an incident, an accident or a fall
  • There is evidence of negligence or malpractice e.g. a drug administration error
  • There is evidence to suggest the death is the result of suicide
  • There is evidence of recent self-harm
  • The resident has a Pacemaker implant fitted
  • The resident has not been seen by their GP for fourteen days or more
  • The circumstances surrounding the resident’s death are suspicious

In all the above circumstances the resident’s body should not be touched until approval by the GP or if it has been necessitated to refer to the Coroner’s office, then the Coroner’s office must first provide approval. Any device should remain in place e.g. Syringe Drivers, catheter.

Documentation of a resident’s death

Staff should document the following in the resident’s daily notes:

  • The date and the time the resident’s death was verified
  • The clinical signs of death that were established
  • The circumstances surrounding the resident’s death
  • The name and designation of the person who verified the death
  • The name of the doctor informed and the time and date s/he was notified
  • The person/s present at the time of death or the name of the person who discovered the resident has passed
  • That the next of kin have been informed/ have not been informed (what arrangements are being made to inform them)
  • The name and address of the undertaker where the resident’s body was transferred to
  • The fact that a Nurse verification and Release of Deceased Form has been completed
  • Information related to whether certain jewellery has remained on the deceased or been removed and stored for collection by the family or their appointed representative
  • Application of identification bracelets recording the Deceased’s name, DOB, date of death. One bracelet to be applied to the wrist a second to be applied to the ankle (usually the bracelet is applied by the Funeral Director/ Coroners who collect the body)
  • Completion of an Incident Form recording the resident’s death
  • Details of any liaison with the Coroner’s Office.