In a Hospital or Nursing Facility:
The staff at the facility will contact the necessary legal agencies to make the notification of the death. If next of kin are not known, the facility will also contact the Coroner for assistance in locating the family. The Social Service Department of the hospital or nursing facility will provide support, guidance and assistance as needed.
While Under the Care of Hospice:
Hospice provides families of patients receiving their services with the steps to take when their loved one dies. The Coroner’s Office works closely with the hospice providers. The hospice nurse will notify the Coroner’s Office of the death.
When Death Occurs Unexpectedly:
When there is an unexpected death, 911 is called. Local law enforcement will respond to the scene. The exceptions to this response are when the death occurs in a hospital, nursing home or when hospice is providing care to the patient. The law enforcement officer will make the proper notifications after assessing the scene.
If the deceased person has been under the care of his/her personal physician, the physician will be contacted to inquire about medical conditions which may have caused or contributed to the death. Depending on the circumstances of the death, the personal physician often signs the death certificate. However, if the personal physician defers certifying the death because he/she cannot state that the medical history supports the death, then the Coroner will take further steps to establish the cause and manner of death. There are times when an autopsy is required to make that determination.