Despite our best efforts, it is not always possible for our patients to survive. In those unfortunate circumstances, we will have to complete a death certificate, and in some cases, a cremation form. The death certificate is fairly straightforward and has instructions on how to complete it, but often times confusion arises when it comes to completing a cremation form.
Firstly one thing must be understood: not every patient who dies warrants a cremation form. It is only after everything is said and done and you are informed that they/the family wish for a cremation that it is undertaken. Please give your full attention when you are completing this form, as it is a legal document.
Here you must give the details about the individual who has passed on. Their name, address, and occupation must be listed. There are small boxes within a larger box for the address. The postal code goes here.
This part needs you to mention the date and time of death, address of where they died (your hospital address, etc), as well as where the patient died. There are also several questions that need answering, such as whether you are a relative of the deceased or if you have any pecuniary interest in the death of the deceased.
relating to or consisting of money.
“he admitted obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception”
financial, monetary, money, fiscal, economic, capital, commercial, budgetary
“he was free from all pecuniary anxieties”Simply put: do you have gain any money from this individual’s death? Does their death give you any financial advantage? The answer, hopefully, is NO.
Next you’ll need to mention whether or not you were the usual practitioner for the deceased. Unless you are the GP, you will answer NO to this question and then explain in the next box what your role is. This could be anything from ‘junior doctor on the ward’ to ‘registrar on the ward’. Basically whatever your role is needs to be mentioned. You’ll then be asked to state who long you attended to your former patient. This sometimes may just be minutes, other times it may be weeks. Try to be as accurate as possible. This rule also applies to the next question, where you’re asked how long it has been since you last saw them alive. If you’ve only seen them hours ago, place a zero in the box for the days.
Now, you will need to positively identify the body of the deceased if you were not there to call and confirm the death. With it, you will need to ensure they have not got a pacemaker, which can easily be determined by check their chest. Pacemakers cannot be kept in for a cremation. They must be declared and removed beforehand. State the results of your examination in the box provided. If you can, you may be able to identify the patient while they are still in your ward. If not, you may need to go to your hospital’s mortuary. Please look into the protocol at your hospital about how to go about doing this.
After this part, you reach a very important section of the form. You will need to outline the symptoms and associated conditions that you believe led to the ultimate demise of your patient. Be very clear and concise in your writing. Do not speculate anything.
Next, you will get a question asking if any sort of post-mortem examination has been done. You can find out whether or not one has been done by asking the staff.
When you complete this part, you come to another section which is again very important. The cause of death. Keep in mind it must be exactly as what was written on the death certificate. If you have any doubt or questions regarding just what the cause is, do not hesitate to ask any senior doctor who also knows of this patient.
Continue through the form and answer the remaining questions. When you get to the part about who all had nursed the patient or been present at the moment of death, be very sure about your answer(s). Again, if you have any doubt, ask. The remainder of the form for part 2 is fairly straightforward.
If there is any box or question that does not apply to your situation, please fill it with ‘N/A’.
This is the end of the form for you. Here you must clearly write out your name, address, personal phone/extension that you can easily be reached at/bleep, as well as your registered qualifications (MBBS, etc), GMC reference (registration) number, then sign and date it.
The second part of the cremation form (Cremation 5) is not to be filled by you. Determine where in your Trust this form is to be submitted (typically it is the bereavement office), and then you will be contacted by another individual (usually a consultant) who will verify various parts of the completed form.
Frequently asked questions
Will I have to complete a cremation form for all the patients who require it that have passed in my ward?
No. If you have not personally seen or dealt with a patient, you cannot and should not complete a death certificate or cremation form for them.
Will I get paid for completing a cremation form?
As morbid as it sounds…yes. But the payment you receive is not from the family of the deceased, rather it is from the funeral services. They are paying you for the work you’ve done and outlined in the form.
So how much will I get paid?
Fees vary from hospital to hospital. You can always ask your bereavement office what the rate is.
How will I receive the payment?
This also varies. Some hospitals will add it to your paycheck, others will mail you a check. How do they know your address? Recall that you’ve completed a question on the form where your address is to be provided.
Please keep in mind that if at any point you are unsure, confused, or unable to complete the form because you are not aware of some bit of information, do not hesitate to ask someone.