Who needs to complete the verification of death?

doctor death verification

When a person passes away, their death must be verified by someone who has been trained to do so before the certification of death can be carried out.

Verification of death is the process of confirming that a person has died.

The process involves a series of checks which are usually carried out by a medical professional, these include:

  • Confirming the patient’s identity.
  • Checking if the patient carries any risk of infection.
  • Checking for signs of life.
  • Recording the time.
  • Checking if the patient has an implantable medical device.

Verification of death must be carried out by someone who has been trained in how to do so safely. In certain conditions, people can appear dead when in fact there is still a chance that they could be resuscitated. A person trained in the verification of death can recognise if resuscitation could be attempted.

Who is responsible for the verification of death?

Before a death certificate can be issued by a doctor, a trained person must confirm that the person in question has indeed died.

The person verifying the death must have received training in how to do so. This is because trained individuals know what checks must be completed during death verification and understand the practical definition of death according to general practice. Their training will help them to correctly and safely identify a deceased person who cannot be resuscitated.

Verification of death is usually performed by a medical professional who has received training in end of life care and verification of death. This is usually a medical practitioner, a trained and registered nurse, or a paramedic. The process does not need to be performed by a doctor and a doctor does not need to view the body of the deceased person after the verification unless the person died unexpectedly.

In some instances, a care worker may be able to verify a death if the death was expected and if they have either been trained in how to do so or receive remote support from a registered medical professional during the process.

During verification of death, a trained individual will observe the deceased person for a minimum of five minutes and carry out checks for signs of life, including checking for a pulse, listening to their chest, and looking at their pupils.

During the coronavirus pandemic, special arrangements were sometimes made to allow verification of death to be performed by non-medical professionals using remote clinical support. This emergency practice was introduced to avoid long delays waiting for verification of death.

Whilst relatives, care home staff, and others may be able to recognise the point at which a person passes away, this cannot be recorded as their official time of death. Instead, this will be recorded as the time of their last observed breath. The person’s official time of death will be recorded as the time when the trained person verifies their death.


How to qualify in the verification of death

To qualify to carry out verification of death, a professional training course must be completed.

The course most suitable for an individual depends on the role that they work in and their existing medical skills and experience.

For most people, a professional End of Life and Verification of Death training course will cover everything they need to know to provide compassionate care to patients in the final stages of their life, including verification of death.

Here at Care Business Associate Training, we run a professional and accredited one day course in End of Life and Verification of Death training.

On completion of this short training course, attendees will receive certification that recognises their competence in providing end of life care and death verification to nationally recognised standards; the certification lasts for three years before it needs to be refreshed.

For more information about our End of Life and Verification of Death training course, give our team a call today on 01772 816 922, send an email to admin@cba-training.co.uk, or book online to secure your place.