What happens when someone dies in a hospital

- 15/12/21

Unlike when someone dies at home or in a care home, deaths which occur at a hospital follow a slightly different set of steps. Firstly, it’s much more likely that you’ll be able to be with the deceased as they pass away and also be able to spend some time with them after. When a loved one dies in a hospital, you’ll likely be made aware that death is imminent and be able to prepare for it. Though knowing that the death of a loved one is imminent doesn’t take away the impact of the loss, you may be able to use this time to accept it.

So, what happens when someone dies in a hospital? Read our step-by-step guide and be prepared at a difficult time.

1. Registering the death

Registering a death following that occurred in a hospital is usually quite straightforward. As there are medical professionals all around, you’ll typically receive your medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) shortly after the death. However, if the death occurred within 24 hours of arrival at the hospital or was unexpected, a Coroner may be referred to to determine the correct cause of death.

2. Making funeral arrangements

Following the death, you’ll need to decide how you wish to proceed with funeral arrangements. If you discussed plans in advance with your loved one, you may know exactly what to do, otherwise you’ll need to start thinking about your options. Luckily, when someone dies in a hospital there are exceptional mortuary facilities where your loved one will be cared for until a decision has been reached. If you choose to do a DIY funeral, the hospital may agree to care for your loved one until the day of the funeral.

3. Entering professional care

If you’re not making all of the arrangements yourself, you’ll need to let your chosen funeral provider know the details of your loved one’s passing, including their current location. Once the funeral provider has all of their details they’ll liaise with the hospital to arrange a time and date to bring the deceased into their care. With hospitals having their own mortuary facilities they’re able to look after your loved one for longer after their passing, so they may not be collected by your chosen funeral director until a few days after the death occurred.

4. Arranging the funeral

While your funeral provider is taking care of your loved one, you’ll need to decide on funeral arrangements. Whether you’re planning the funeral yourself or using the support of a funeral professional, you’ll now need to decide on exactly what you want to happen at the funeral.

From filling out paperwork and picking songs for the service to planning a celebration of life thereafter, our 24/7 support team can support you each step along the way.

5. Delivering donations

If your loved one dies in a hospital, either expectedly or unexpectedly, many families ask for donations towards the hospital in lieu of flowers at the funeral to thank them for their care. If you wish to do so, most hospitals will allow you to deliver your donations both in person by cash, card or cheque or by digital money transfer.

Wherever your loved one passes away, the time following is rarely pleasant. If you, or someone you know, may be struggling with grief we’ve created a number of dedicated guides on the subject which may be of use. We also work closely with Cruse Bereavement Support, who can help to support you while grieving.

Distinct Cremations is a trading name of Distinct Cremations Limited I Registered in England, No. 13366310 and Distinct Funeral Plans Limited (Prepaid Funeral plan provider) I Registered in England, No. 13366327 | Registered Office Westerleigh Crematorium, Westerleigh Road, Bristol BS37 8QP | Part of the Westerleigh Group |