Confirmation or verification of death by registered nurses


This guide outlines considerations around confirmation or verification of death by registered nurses.

Introduction

Confirmation or verification of death is defined as deciding whether a person is actually deceased. Confirmation or verification of death can be undertaken by a registered nurse, however you must check your employer's policies to determine local agreements about the circumstances in which this can be done. Certification of death requires a registered medical practitioner.

Please read Care After Death: Registered Nurse Verification of Expected Adult Death (RNVoEAD) guidance (3rd Edition, November 2019) from the Hospice UK website for more detail. 

Covid-19

For specific information on Covid-19, please also see COVID-19 guidance on DNACPR and verification of death.

 

Prisons

Within prisons registered nurses do not currently verify death. All prison deaths in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently are subject to an inquest (whether the deceased died of natural causes or not) and are therefore reportable to the Coroner at this time. This issue is being looked at within the NHS England Health and Justice team to potentially revise the wording within the legal requirements and will be the result of discussions with the Chief Coroner.

In Scotland deaths in legal custody must be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for a mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiry.

If a patient's condition improves significantly following a decision that death is imminent, the appropriate medical practitioner should be consulted.

The registered nurse verifying/confirming death must also consider the health and safety of others to ensure they are protected, e.g. from infectious illness, radioactive implants and implantable devices.
You must check your employer's own policy on this area for specific details as applicable to your workplace.

COVID-19

Find answers to your questions about Covid-19 (coronavirus) and work.

Involved in an inquest?

Read our advice if you’ve been asked to attend an inquest or Fatal Accident Inquiry.

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See our A-Z of advice. These guides will help you answer many of your questions about work. 

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Page last updated - 29/06/2020