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GPs to report fewer deaths to the coroner under legislation change

GPs will no longer have to automatically report to the coroner deaths of someone under a deprivation of liberty safeguard (DoLS) under an amendment currently going through the House of Lords.

The amendment to the ‘Policing and Crime‘ bill includes a section which changes the definition of ‘state detention’ so it doesn’t include being ‘deprived of liberty’ - those people who are in a care home or hospital under continuous or complete supervision and control and are not free to leave.

GPs have to automatically report the death of anyone under ‘state detention’ to the coroner. But the change to the legal definition means that GPs will no longer have to automatically report the deaths of anyone under a DoLS.

However, GPs will still have to report deaths of these patients to the coroner if they die in any other relevant circumstance such as a fall.

This comes as the death certification process is set to be reformed, with the introduction of medical examiners from 2018 to certify all death certificates. 

Readers' comments (3)

  • Good job, because GP's are rarely told that the patient has a DOLS so we can easily be in breach of the law without knowing it. Last one of these I had neither the home or adult social care were sure whether there was a DOLS in place as it had been applied for but never completed (can take 18 months).

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  • Institution is responsible for informing of DOLS not you anyway - so when they die they should tell you!

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  • I think that if the GP knows the patient has died and knows the cause of death then it is reasonable to issues a death certificate. If the GP does not know the patient has died and the cause of death, then it would be improper to issue a death certificate. This job must be performed by the Coroner's Office to establish the cause of death so they can record the cause. Some causes of death are often obvious (killed in battle, traffic accidents, fire etc) but consider our friend's partner in Brighton found dead but looking quite happy, on the bedroom floor. It took time and post mortem examination to find out what had killed this 50 year old, and the cause was an occluded coronary artery which was unexpected because, although he loved food, he had been a teacher and a ballroom dancer, always on his feet. May he rest in peace.

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