Verification of expected adult death (VoEAD) is a task often confused with the medical certification of cause of death process. Certification of death can only be done by a registered medical practitioner and is the legal documentation certifying the medical cause of death; this is not discussed here and is an entirely different process.

VoEAD is the physical process of confirming that a person has died; it involves examining the body and checking that there are no signs of life. Historically, this has been an area which in the community doctors have often been responsible for. In some areas of care, it was common for nurses to verify death, particularly in hospices. Guidance released due to the current coronavirus pandemic has made some changes to facilitate  VoEAD and many primary care providers particularly will be having to familiarise themselves with these changes and understand the how best to support their staff.

It is now becoming more common for other health care practitioners to be asked to verify death, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. There are a number of important questions that providers should consider: 

  • Who can verify?
  • Which deaths can they verify?
  • How can technology be used?
  • What data protection and information governance considerations are there?
  • What records are required?
  • What has to be reported to the Coroner?
  • What if there are concerns about the death?

This is an important process and one which must be done correctly. Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss any of these issues, or your systems and processes for VoEAD.

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