When Someone Dies Suddenly
at home or in the accident and emergency department
This section gives you details about the immediate procedures when someone dies suddenly or unexpectedly. We know that it is a situation that no one expects to find themselves in, and the shock will have a huge effect on you. We hope that this information will help you navigate the initial stages.
If the death was unexpected, you should dial 999 and ask for an ambulance and police immediately. You will be told what to do by the operator to establish whether you can try and resuscitate the person. Paramedics will carry out resuscitation or will confirm the death. Leave the area untouched apart from any attempt at resuscitation. The police will arrange for the body to be moved by a funeral director acting for the coroner if the death is unexpected. Even if this is not O’Dwyers, you can still instruct us to take over the handling of the funeral and collection of your loved one from them. If the police or ambulance service are involved, or if someone dies within 24 hours of arriving at hospital, it is always regarded as a sudden death.
The hospital staff are legally obliged to refer all sudden and unexpected deaths to the local coroner, who will determine whether a post mortem examination is needed. Please be aware that depending on the circumstances of death and the outcome of the examination, the process can take several weeks. However, it is not always the case that you are unable to go ahead with the funeral.
If a post-mortem examination is required, you will be contacted by the Coroner’s Office directly. The coroner will notify the registrar so that you can register the death.
The Coroner’s Service Tel: 020 8753 1164 (Mon-Fri: 9am-3.30pm) Web: www.westlondoncoroner.org
If the death was expected, perhaps due to a terminal illness, you should contact the deceased person’s GP, your palliative care team or dial 111 and ask for a Harmony doctor to pronounce death. If it happened during the night, you do not need to contact the doctor until the following morning unless you want to. If the cause of death is known and from natural causes the doctor will issue the documents to allow you to register the death.
Once the doctor has seen the person who has died, you can call us on 020 3067 0068 at any time of the day or night so that we can bring them into our care. Please call your local GP practice or search online for NHS England Out of Hours for more information.