Calling A Code Death (call police?)

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I have been a CNA for 3 years, lvn 6 year, RN for 1 year in California in a subacute setting. I have always known that if a patient is full code and died unsuspectedly, you always call police after 911 paramedics can’t resuscitate the patient and time of death is called in by the cctrn. I have always called the police in the past to file a report and get a case number and badge number added in my documentation in case the family members want to file lawsuit after a death of a full code. I have also known that you need to call family if they want to do an autopsy, because you can’t pull out trach tubes, foley and gt if they want to do an autopsy.  So my girlfriend who is a director of nursing of a snf said that it is up to the family member if they want to do a coroner’s report with the police, she said that there is no need to find holes to bury yourself into. I feel that it is incorrect and feel more vulnerable because having a police walk in the facility and write a report that there was no visible foul play that had happened would help a lot in defense in the court. So call police after full code death with or without family consent?

JKL33

6,328 Posts

The answer here is not based upon anyone's opinion about what is better for the facility/their legal risk. It would be based upon your state or jurisdiction's coroner/ME/death reporting laws.  You need to know what that says.

faithjohn

faithjohn

66 Posts

In my state, if there is a full code and 911 is called, the police automatically come. 

chare

3,582 Posts

27 minutes ago, faithjohn said:

In my state, if there is a full code and 911 is called, the police automatically come. 

I've been associated with EMS in 4 states, and this has not been my experience.

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 8,058 Posts

I haven't heard of getting police involved when no suspicion of a crime occurred, I'm curious how that conversation goes with the officers.  

Officer: "so what seems to be problem?"

Facility staff: "Somebody died and we want you to confirm that no foul play occurred."

Officer:  "Do you have reason to believe the death was the result of a crime?"

Facility staff:  "No"

Officer: "Well then, my job is done here".

 

I'm also not clear why this would only apply to full code patients and not DNR.

And I assume there are places where families can request an autopsy, but in various areas where I've worked only the Medical Examiner / Coroner can choose whether or not to perform and autopsy.

faithjohn

faithjohn

66 Posts

46 minutes ago, MunoRN said:

I haven't heard of getting police involved when no suspicion of a crime occurred, I'm curious how that conversation goes with the officers.  

Officer: "so what seems to be problem?"

Facility staff: "Somebody died and we want you to confirm that no foul play occurred."

Officer:  "Do you have reason to believe the death was the result of a crime?"

Facility staff:  "No"

Officer: "Well then, my job is done here".

 

I'm also not clear why this would only apply to full code patients and not DNR.

Not sure. Maybe there is no preparation of death in a full code. 

2 hours ago, MunoRN said:

I haven't heard of getting police involved when no suspicion of a crime occurred, I'm curious how that conversation goes with the officers.  

Officer: "so what seems to be problem?"

Facility staff: "Somebody died and we want you to confirm that no foul play occurred."

Officer:  "Do you have reason to believe the death was the result of a crime?"

Facility staff:  "No"

Officer: "Well then, my job is done here".

 

I'm also not clear why this would only apply to full code patients and not DNR.

And I assume there are places where families can request an autopsy, but in various areas where I've worked only the Medical Examiner / Coroner can choose whether or not to perform and autopsy.

I have done it 3 times so far and they just go there. We do it mainly for added defense in case it is sent to the courts. They would not just take your word for it that no crime has been done. Some skilled nursing facilities cover up malpractices and neglect, that is why police have no problem going in there. It maybe different in a hospital settings because turnover is pretty quick and accepted that people die in emergency or surgery. They would basically ask you what happened, take a look at the patient to look for visible injuries like blunt traumas or cuts then write a report with a case number. If you don’t call them and it did go to the courts, your documentation is the only evidence with no other witnesses. The difference of calling in regards to full code vs dnr, is dnr patients have poor prognosis and families have already accepted that their loved ones would die in the future compare to someone who is full code who went to a facility only to receive rehab after hip or knee surgery but dies unsuspectedly. So I’m just curious what other nurses in california do in this kind of situation because I can’t find it under board of nursing. 

JKL33

6,328 Posts

8 hours ago, Jcezz said:

So I’m just curious what other nurses in california do in this kind of situation because I can’t find it under board of nursing. 

You can look up California death reporting laws and go from there. I did it after I read your post but will not try to interpret them for your specific situation.

9 hours ago, Jcezz said:

It maybe different in a hospital settings because turnover is pretty quick and accepted that people die in emergency or surgery.

No....again, whatever the setting, people are following laws that apply to them. There are plenty of coroner/ME notifications in hospital settings.

Your facility needs to follow the state/jurisdiction laws that apply to your situation.

0121Mednurse

Specializes in Skilled, LTC. 7 Posts

I'm from Arizona and a Resident I was caring for coded & passed.  Two police officers showed within 10 minutes of the Paramedics leaving. I assume during the 911 call the dispatcher  has to notify the police. The police notified the Coroner and within an hour I got an okay to ahead and notify the family and mortuary. 

Golden_RN

Golden_RN, MSN

563 Posts

What does your facility policy say?

toomuchbaloney

toomuchbaloney

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 43 years experience. 8,991 Posts

On 8/13/2022 at 8:28 PM, MunoRN said:

I haven't heard of getting police involved when no suspicion of a crime occurred, I'm curious how that conversation goes with the officers.  

Officer: "so what seems to be problem?"

Facility staff: "Somebody died and we want you to confirm that no foul play occurred."

Officer:  "Do you have reason to believe the death was the result of a crime?"

Facility staff:  "No"

Officer: "Well then, my job is done here".

 

I'm also not clear why this would only apply to full code patients and not DNR.

And I assume there are places where families can request an autopsy, but in various areas where I've worked only the Medical Examiner / Coroner can choose whether or not to perform and autopsy.

It depends upon the laws in the area as well as whether there is professional staff trained to examine the body for signs of unnatural causes in an unexpected death.  

Even home hospice deaths must be attended by police and generate a report in some jurisdictions. 

salpn

salpn

Specializes in School LPN. Has 3 years experience. 20 Posts

Yeah, it varies from state to state.    Medical facilities in my state report deaths to the state ME, not to the police.    If paramedics are called to outside-the-facility, they have their own procedures.     In the next state over, it's common to call the police for outside-the-facility death reports.