When the Time Comes…

In an Aged Care Facility

* Generally an aged care facility will require the details of your chosen funeral director upon entry into the facility.

* Following a death when the medical staff at the facility have satisfied the legal requirements regarding the cause of death and identity of the deceased, a medical cause of death or life extinct document is issued.

* The nursing staff or family notifies Ruffles Funeral Services to arrange transport of the deceased from the nursing facility to our accredited mortuary facility. We will then appoint a conference time to meet with your family for completion of the required applications and to record the necessary funeral particulars.

In a Hospital

* After the medical staff at the hospital have satisfied the legal requirements regarding the cause of death and identity of the deceased a medical cause of death document will be issued.

* Call Ruffles Funeral Services to arrange the deceased to be transported from the hospital and to appoint a conference time to meet with your family for completion of the required applications and to record the necessary funeral particulars.

At Home

* Call the deceased’s doctor, once the doctor has identified the deceased and is satisfied as to the cause of death, the doctor will write a medical cause of death or life extinct document. If the doctor has not attended the deceased in the past three months or the doctor is uncertain as to the exact cause of death, the certification becomes a coroner’s matter and the police will need to be called to the home.

* After calling the doctor or police, call your family or close friends for support and help in this difficult period.

* While waiting for the doctor call Ruffles Funeral Services. We will guide you through the necessary steps and other matters that will require decisions.

* When the medical cause of death or life extinct document is issued we can then transport the deceased from the home to our accredited mortuary facility. We will arrange a conference time to meet with your family for completion of the required applications and to record the necessary funeral particulars.

Accidental or Sudden Unexplained Death

* Call the Police; normally they will arrange a government contracted Funeral Director to take the deceased to a placed where an official examination will take place. You are not obligated to use the government undertaker for any further service. The Police will refer the matter to the Coroner, who will prepare a report that will include a Burial Order or a Cremation Permit. The Coroner report may take a few days even when the matter is relatively straight forward.

* Call Ruffles Funeral Services who will be able to inform you about what is happening in your particular circumstances and will help to guide you through other matters that will require decisions.

A Death Must Be Reported to a Coroner when:

  • The identity of a deceased person is unknown. Even if there is nothing suspicious about the death, unless the identity of the deceased can be established with sufficient certainty to enable the death to be registered, the death must be reported to a coroner. Fingerprints, photographs, dental examinations or DNA can be used to identify the person.
  • A person has died suddenly and the cause is unknown. A death is violent or unnatural if it is not the result of the natural progression of a disease but is caused by accident, suicide or homicide. Car accidents, falls, drowning, electrocutions, drug overdoses, and industrial and domestic accidents are all reported to coroners under this category. A death is reportable under this category even if there is a delay between the incident causing injury and the death, as long as the injury caused or contributed to the death and without the injury the person would not have died.
  • A person has died a violent or unnatural death. A death is violent or unnatural if it is not the result of the natural progression of a disease but is caused by accident, suicide or homicide. Car accidents, falls, drowning, electrocutions, drug overdoses, and industrial and domestic accidents are all reported to coroners under this category. A death is reportable under this category even if there is a delay between the incident causing injury and the death, as long as the injury caused or contributed to the death and without the injury the person would not have died.
  • A person has died in suspicious circumstances. Suspicious deaths are reported to coroners to enable their circumstances to be further investigated. If police consider there is sufficient evidence to prefer criminal charges in connection with the death they may do so. In these cases, the coronial investigation is postponed until those charges are resolved.
  • The deceased person was not attended by a medical practitioner within three months before death.
  • A medical practitioner has not issued and is not likely to issue a certificate stating the causeof death. Medical practitioners are obliged to issue a cause of death certificate if they can ascertain the probable cause of death. If this is not possible the death is reported to the coroner so that an autopsy can be ordered to determine the medical cause of death.
  • The death was a health care related death.  ‘Health care’ means a health procedure or any care, treatment, advice, service or goods provided for the benefit of human health. A health procedure includes any dental, medical, surgical, diagnostic or other health related procedure, including giving an anaesthetic or other drug. Health care related deaths include deaths that result from a failure to treat or diagnose, and clinical or medication incidents and errors. A death will be health care related if health care or a failure to provide health care caused or contributed to the death and, before the health care was provided, an independent person (who is qualified in the area of health care) would not have expected the health care to cause or contribute to the death or for the death to occur at that time. The independent person can look at all of the circumstances including:
      • the person’s known state of health before the health care was provided, for example, whether they had any underlying disease, condition or injury
      • the clinically accepted range of risk associated with the health care.
  • The death occurred in care.   A person has died while in, or temporarily absent from, certain establishments that have been providing them with care, treatment and assistance, such as a hospital, residential centre, welfare facility or residential child care centre. An inquest must be held for deaths in care if the circumstances of the case raise issues about the care provided to the deceased person.
  • The death occurred in custody.  A death will be a death in custody if the person died while in custody, escaping from custody or trying to avoid being put into custody. ‘Custody’ is broadly defined to capture detention under any state or Commonwealth legislation (with some limited exceptions) whether or not by police. Deaths in custody must be reported to the state coroner or deputy state coroner and an inquest must be held.
  • The death occurred as a result of police operations. Deaths occurring in the course of or as a result of police operations include the death of an innocent bystander while police are attempting to detain a suspect. These deaths can only be reported to the state coroner or deputy state coroner and an inquest must be held unless the coroner is satisfied that the circumstances do not require an inquest.

Who Reports The Death To The Coroner?

The Coroners Act 2003 imposes a duty on people to report reportable deaths if they are aware of a reportable death and do not think that it has already been reported.

If the person who died had a disability and lived in a level three accredited residential service or a government funded or provided residential service, then the service provider must report the death even if the person died elsewhere (for example, in hospital) and the death may have been reported by another person. A higher obligation is placed on these service providers because the services are provided to particularly vulnerable members of society.

Usually a police officer or medical practitioner will report a death to the coroner.

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