Harbor:Deceased patients

Family Viewing of Deceased Patients

If you have a death in the ED, please don't direct family to the morgue and don't promise body viewing. If the death is potentially a coroner's case, with an unclear cause of death or concerns for possible criminal activity (violence, hit and run, etc.), the family may not be allowed near the body for concerns of evidentiary integrity. For any death that we will be disclosing to the family, the ED social worker should be present to handle the details of discussing body and funeral preparations with the family.

Family Bereavement Resources

How to access the bereavement packet if needed.

  • Go to home page for Harbor/UCLA and click on Departments/Site pages
  • Once the page comes up, look in the second column for Patient Education
  • Click on Patient Education
  • Once the page comes up, look for Patient Handouts
  • Click on Patient Handouts
  • Once page comes up, scroll down to Bereavement packet; it is available in English, Spanish, and Korean.

Coroners' case

  • If you believe the cause of death to be natural (not as the result of an accident, injury, suicide, homicide, etc.) and the case does not meet the criteria for coroner's cases listed in the death packet yellow form, please complete the death certificate using your clinical understanding of the reasons for death. 
  • If law enforcement is already involved with case and it is believed to potentially be the result of a crime, you do not need to separately notify the coroner.  Simply check off "yes to coroner's case" on the death packet and do not complete the death certificate. 
  • If law enforcement is not involved and you are not sure if it is a coroner's case (e.g. might meet one of the criteria listed on the packet, maybe was as a result of an accident) or are just not comfortable completing the “Information for Death Certificate” form, then please either contact the coroner on shift (note: the wait time is usually 1-2 hours) or check of "coroner's case" on the death packet and Decedent Affairs staff will contact the coroner.   
    • Coroner's case if death occurred under any of the following circumstances:
      • Without medical attendance.
      • During the continued absence of the attending physician and surgeon.
      • Where the attending physician and surgeon or the physician assistant is unable to state the cause of death.
      • Where suicide is suspected.
      • Following an injury or an accident.
      • Under circumstances as to afford a reasonable ground to suspect that the death was caused by the criminal act of another.
    • Primary care providers or the Coroner complete the death certificate, NOT ED providers. We only complete the form “Information for the Death Certificate.”  
    • Attendings are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the case is reported to the coroner. 

See Also