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What if somebody dies who is not in hospice?

My mother has stage 4 cancer and is not in hospice, if she dies who do I call first 911, the funeral home, who?
Status: Open    Feb 07, 2017 - 07:45 AM

End of Life

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Feb 14, 2017 - 07:56 AM

I would suggest that your mother’s doctor would be a good resource for you. The requirements regarding this issue can vary from one community to another. The general rule is that if an individual is under medical care at the time of death, there is no need for further investigation by the medical examiner, except if there is some other suspicious circumstance.

When I was a home health nurse, if we had someone who we anticipated would die, we would notify the medical examiner ahead of time, so the family could proceed with the funeral home. Your mother’s primary care provider could arrange the notification of the medical examiner, so you don’t have to worry about that aspect.

I would be hesitant about calling 911. If it is not clear that your mother has a Do Not Resuscitate, they may initiate CPR and have to carry through with it until stopped by a physician.

Is there some reason that your mother does not have hospice? If she is eligible, I would highly recommend using them. They will help you make these arrangements ahead of time and help lessen the burden at the time of your mother’s death. They also can come there at the time of her death to help make phone calls and make necessary preparations for the funeral home.

I wish you comfort in knowing that you were able to be there for your mother.
In my book, Healthcare Handbook for Senior Citizens and Their Families at:, I have a chapter on end-of-life care, which includes the rules and regulations for Hospice care.
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By fdan0517 on Feb 18, 2017 - 07:12 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

There are many people in this position who are not familiar with Hospice and that a good share of the expenses are covered by Medicare. This is where the system is failing the population. Too many people are unaware of this benefit. It will cover whether you mother is in a private home or senior living situation. Depending on where you live, there actually might be "hospices" available for her to go to. Hospice care is wonderful - they are trained to know exactly what to do and when, become more personable with the patient, find out what emotionally might help the patient (music, being read to, just talking about their past) and is a great service. If the patient remains in private housing room and board are free; if they go to a different type of facility, you can expect to pay for room and board.

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Feb 09, 2017 - 10:21 AM

People have been dying for thousands of years. It is a very natural process. Unfortunately, in the race to cure disease, society's (the medical community especially) understanding of the process has somehow been lost. Beginning in the 1950s and peaking in the 1970s it was seen that the only place a person was supposed to die was in a hospital. A hospital where they would commonly receive (curative?) treatments right up until the moment they died. Everyone always looking for a miracle to take place.

In the late 1970s people rediscovered the dying process as a natural event and said that a hopsital is the worst place for this normal and natural phase of growth and development to happen. These are the folks who invented the modern 'hospice' movement. The goal was to allow a person the die in a non-curative setting, surrounded by people they love. Preferably it was the home of the dying person but sometimes the best situation was a 'home like' environment. Today hospice has become a recognized care plan and is administered in private homes, long term care facilities and even hospitals. (which goes against the original intent).

For someone to be 'admitted' to a hospice program they generally need a Doctor to state that it is expected that they will die a natural death from disease within 6 months. This prediction can also then change insurance benefits who perhaps will then pay for supplies and personnel (nurses & caregivers) that might not be covered during the illness (treatment) diagnosis.

If your mother is currently in a terminal state, and she qualifies for hospice, DO INVESTIGATE HAVING HER ENROLLED! It can be very beneficial both emotionally and financially.

But you asked about the final moment. You know she is going to die, so now is a good time to make arrangements. Work with a funeral director or cremation organization to decide what arrangements you and your mother want. (Buying funerals pre-need can be cheaper than buying them after death)

A funeral director has also been called an "undertaker". This name comes from the fact that he is the person who 'undertakes' all the many tasks that must be performed after a death. They are professionals, they know what papers need to be signed and filed, what notifications need to be made and what legal standards need to be met, they have been through the process many, many times. If you have made prior arrangements (or even if you have not) making one call to a funeral professional ensures that they will undertake everything necessary from removal of the body to its final disposition. That is their job.

911 personnel are NOT trained or prepared to handle an expected, natural death. Calling 911 at the time of a death will have fire trucks, ambulances and police cars screaming to your house with full red lights and sirens. They will awaken your neighbors. The EMS team might want to (or be required to) transport your mother to a hospital. (which would incur additional bills)

If there is a medical emergency that needs treatment, of course call 911. However, if you are dealing with an expected death, call a funeral director.

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