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What will be the date of death?

(61 Posts)
HurdyGurdy Wed 05-Apr-23 08:56:50

My dear mother in law died last night. She was in a care home, and was found to have died in her sleep at a late night check by the staff. This was around 11.30pm

The doctor who would declare death wouldn't have visited until after midnight.

What would the date of death be? When the staff found her (not breathing and unresponsive) on 4th April, or when the doctor declares death on 5th April?

I don't think it will matter either way, but it's the one thing that my husband has latched onto, and seems worried about.

MiniMoon Wed 05-Apr-23 10:55:34

Where I worked, in a private nursing home, all the nurses were able to verify death, if death occurred late at night or at the weekend.
The date of verification was used when the GP came to certify death.
We wrote everything into the Resident's care plan for the Doctor to read.
I retired 10 years ago, so am not up to date with current policies.

ExDancer Wed 05-Apr-23 11:05:25

So does that mean she died on the 5th Mini? I can't think it matters much, but in, say, an Agatha Christi novel with a complicated plot about a will and inheritance it might be crutial?
Sorry for your loss HurdyGurdy its an upsetting time, even if we're expecting it. flowers

Bea65 Wed 05-Apr-23 11:11:34

My late Mom died at 4:05 am in hospital but there was no certifiable nurse or a dr or a locum to verify the time so at 7:10 a nurse came into the room to certify the death at 7:10 - I stated this is incorrect as she passed at 4:05 and ive stayed with mattered to me as i know it would have mattered to Mom...i was disgusted at the time that in a major hospital no-one seemed bothered to come at the time of deathsad my sister who lives hours away said the matters!

Oopsadaisy1 Wed 05-Apr-23 11:12:09

My BIL died before midnight in hospital but the Doctor didn’t get to the ward until 12.30 so he was declared dead the day after he actually died.
My SIL was very upset as she was with him when he died, to her the wrong date went on the death certificate.

Daddima Wed 05-Apr-23 11:27:28

When the Bodach was deteriorating at home over Christmas, my GP left me a box containing prescription drugs for injection ( for district nurses). He also left a Certificate of Expected Death, which could apparently be filled in by the nurses. I had never heard of such a thing.
None of it was necessary, as he was admitted to hospital.

dustyangel Wed 05-Apr-23 11:36:47

For various reasons we never knew the exact day or even month of my son’s death, it was over a bank holiday weekend.
It does matter.

Vintagenonna Wed 05-Apr-23 11:42:46


How very, very sad.

Warm thoughts.

HurdyGurdy Wed 05-Apr-23 13:07:27

Thank you - and for sharing your sad stories, especially dustyangel.

My sister in law is local (we are 200 miles away), so she will no doubt be able to update my husband later today.

pandapatch Wed 05-Apr-23 14:19:27

dustyangel, we too never knew the exact day of my son's death, also over a bank holiday weekend, and it did matter to me (but not my husband). So I decided the date that seemed most likely to me, and that I felt in my heart was right.
Thinking of you x

M0nica Wed 05-Apr-23 14:20:30

It is even more complicated if you are donating organs. My sister was verified as brain dead on a Friday, but as we were donating organs, she had to be on life support after that for 2 days before the organs were taken - which meant her organs were harvested and the death certificate issued on the Sunday, 2 days after she actually died.

grannypiper Wed 05-Apr-23 14:50:02

HurdyGurdy Sorry to hear about your SIL. We had a the same issue with my SIL's dear Mum. She was last seen by a carer at 20:00 by a carer and was found by another carer at 08:10 the next morning, She had been dead many hours but no idea about wether she died in the evening or early hours of the morning. The official date is the morning but my poor SIL has no idea which day her mum died.

Blinko Wed 05-Apr-23 17:27:08

My elderly relative dies on Sunday evening (2nd April) at around 7pm according to someone I spoke to on the ward at approximately 8pm. Death was not certified till 0.31hrs the next morning, so 3rd April is what's on the death certificate.

Looks like medical people don't think it's of particular importance, doesn't it?

Nanatoone Wed 05-Apr-23 17:34:16

Strange to read this. My son in law was with my husband when he passed away at about 8.10 in the evening. We couldn’t ask the funeral director to come (although they were aware, it was expected) until someone had certified his death. That happened at around 1.30am although the nurse was happy to certify 8.10 as it had been phoned in at that time. It matters. My heart goes out to anyone who has this lack of clarity hanging over them.

maddyone Wed 05-Apr-23 17:36:22

My mother died shortly after midnight in her care home and was found by a carer at about 12.15. That was taken as her date of death but it’s possible that she died the day before, just before midnight. I only feel guilty that I wasn’t with her. I should have stayed, but thought she was sleeping and decided to return the next morning. In fact she was moving towards her death.

dustyangel Wed 05-Apr-23 17:48:52

Thank you everyone, for your commiserations and for sharing your own sad thoughts. I started to write especially so and so but realised I couldn’t single any one of you out, you are all so special.

pandapatch Thank you, that is what I have done too.

pandapatch Fri 07-Apr-23 11:15:07

dustyangel, I will think of you and your son, when I think of my son on the anniversary x

Bluedaisy Fri 07-Apr-23 11:16:57

My condolences to you and your DH. Totally agree it does matter.
My DB passed away unexpectedly in January in Florida and I know he passed on the 9th January as when we received the phone call from our niece my husband remarked that he will never enjoy a birthday again knowing my brother died on his birthday. On his death certificate it’s been put down as 19th January and it’s really annoyed and upset me, even though I don’t know why. I questioned my niece but she’s only young and has been struggling with everything on her own and said she was sure it was the 10th January but she was so upset that I just think those days have become a blur to her. Maybe have a word with the Matron of the care home or phone the Doctor who writes the death certificate?

Bluedaisy Fri 07-Apr-23 11:17:37

10th January not 19th!

JRTW2 Fri 07-Apr-23 11:21:06

Happened to my mother. She clearly died on the Saturday pm but DoB was when paramedics came on Sunday morning

Westcoaster Fri 07-Apr-23 11:21:19

So sorry for your loss.

The time on the certificate is when the person is pronounced dead, rather than when they actually passed.
I was actually surprised when the time on my husband’s was his time of death and not when the dr came an hour later.

In any case I’m not sure why it makes any difference?

Yearoff Fri 07-Apr-23 11:38:30

My partner died in a care home in 2019. There was an expectation of death and he was on comfort meds. When the district nurse arrived 30 mins after we called her she asked me what time he died at. She put that time in the paperwork.

janipans Fri 07-Apr-23 11:55:58

Sound like lack of empathy. It really doesn't matter to a doctor when exactly the person died, they are still dead, but from this we can see that it does matter to relatives. I think though that too much is being read into the "certification" here. The actual time of death is a fact which cannot be altered, the certification is merely a confirmation that the person is indeed dead, which, as we can see can be confirmed some time later. This doesn't alter the time of death (it is just the record of someone having died), so the date on the certificate is just the time at which "The Certificate" was issued - which, like any legal document is dated. (ie, not the actual time of death, unless, of course,the certifier was actually present!) I can't remember what it says on a death Certificate but maybe it needs to be altered to "Date of Death Certification" rather than "Date of death". (... and if a crime writer like Agatha Christie gets a good story out of it, I will certainly enjoy reading it, though I suspect that if there was any reason to have to know the exact time, it would be for the Courts to decide, based on a "balance of probabilities", not for relatives and not the certifier!

Jools22 Fri 07-Apr-23 12:06:42

I was with my mother when she died in hospital. I sat with her for some time before I told the nurse in charge and the doctor arrived some hours later. The time recorded was the time I gave them. I did have a bit of advantage that I had been a very senior nurse at one time so they all seemed a little afraid/ in awe of me

KathrynP Fri 07-Apr-23 12:07:51

I remember attending the sudden but peaceful death of a 99 yr old lady who died at 10pm on the night before her 100th birthday. Her family were so upset that she didn’t make her 100th. I think the doctor put 10pm even though he attended after midnight.