What to do When an Unexpected Death has Occurred


An unexpected death is where the deceased was not under any sort of hospice, hospital, or nursing care and/or there was no indication that death was imminent. When this happens the immediate protocol is very different than an expected death:

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Unlock the door
  • Have any "out-of-hospital-do-not-resuscitate" documents in hand if the deceased made those arrangements
  • If you know whether or not the deceased wanted CPR and you know how, begin CPR and continue until instructed to stop by emergency rescue personnel
  • The police and the coroner will undoubtedly be involved in an unexpected death
  • Be prepared to be questioned by the police, as it is their job to determine foul play
  • Be prepared that body may be transferred to an institution

After cause of death has been determined and the coroner has ruled out foul play, you can proceed with planning the funeral. Please note that if the body is taken to the coroner it can take up to a month before it will be released.

If the body has been left at your home click here. If the body has been taken to the hospital or coroner's office then click here.