Following the review of the Coroners Act 1985, a Guidance Note has been developed to facilitate registered nurses and midwives, and paramedics to verify death.
The introduction of the Guidance Note does not impact upon the legal requirement for a registered medical practitioner to certify death (a MCCD) under section 37 of the Births, Deaths & Marriages Registration Act 1996 or the reporting requirements under the Coroners Act 2008.
"That legislation be enacted which requires a doctor, nurse, paramedic or other suitably qualified person to provide a certificate which verifies the fact that a person has died. Such certification must only occur following a clinical assessment of the body (which would include an examination of the body) to establish that death has occurred and must include information in the certificate which details the circumstances of death including a record of any injuries observed on the body and any information about the death which should be referred to the coroner."
The Government Response to the VLRC report (March 2007) supported in principle the verification of death procedures. The response indicated that verification and certification of death currently takes place within the health system and the view was that reforms to these processes are best promoted using the expertise available to that system, without shifting responsibility or creating a new system.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) (now Dept of Health) was tasked with implementing this recommendation.
In 2008 DHS determined that it was unnecessary to enact legislation to require nurses and paramedics to verify death, as the law does not prevent these professionals from undertaking this role and they are educated to a standard to be able to do so.
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