What should I do when an expected death occurs at home?

If the death was expected, but the patient was not under hospice care, you will need to call 911. Both the police and the paramedics will probably respond. Paramedics will treat a “non-attended” (non-hospice) death like any other patient at risk. They do not expect ordinary citizens to be expert at determining death, and will initiate emergency medical procedures. They will probably take the person to the emergency room of the nearest hospital, where death may be officially pronounced by the emergency room doctor.

If the death was expected, and the deceased was under hospice care, do not call 911. Instead, call the hospice nurse. The hospice agency and the nurse will work together to make sure all local regulations are followed. The hospice nurse is authorized to legally pronounce the death and can assist the family to notify their funeral provider to remove the body.