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Information for hospitals, nursing homes, and state facilities

If a death occurred in your hospital, nursing home, or state facility and meets our reporting guidelines, you must report it to our office. Here is what you should know about reporting a death, and what to do afterwards.

Reporting a death

Deaths that are reported to our office must meet our reporting guidelines. To report a death, call our Intake Department at (617) 267-6767 ext. 1, or fax at (617) 262-6726. The department is open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Include in your call:

  • Your name, title, contact number, and the name of your facility

  • The name and title of the person who pronounced the death

  • The circumstances of the death. Include anything significant that may have contributed to the death, such as a fall or medical procedure

  • The medical record number and the name of the attending physician

  • The name of the primary care physician

  • Any demographic information about the deceased. This may include:

    • Name

    • Date of birth

    • Address

    • Closest legal living relative

    • Prior medical history

Intake staff will contact a medical examiner. The medical examiner will decide if our office will accept or decline the case.

If we accept the case:

  • The medical examiner will decide if the case will go to our office or to a district medical examiner. If the case is assigned to a district medical examiner, they will contact the hospital or facility to examine the deceased and certify the death.

  • Our operations desk will make arrangements to transport the deceased from your facility to our office.

  • Do not disturb any treating equipment that you used. We will make arrangements to transport it with the deceased to our office.

  • You should provide the staff transporting the deceased with:

    • Copies of the medical record

    • Emergency department report

    • Admission and discharge summary

    • Laboratory and diagnostic reports

    • Admission blood

You should email our office with any reports that are unavailable at the time of transport.

If you are aware of religious considerations that might impact how we examine or release the deceased, you should contact the Intake Department immediately.

Type of examination

An autopsy is not performed on all cases. The medical examiner will determine what type of exam we will perform.

Helpful information for families

  • Explain to families that the medical examiner will examine the body to find the cause and manner of death.

  • Explain that our examination of the death may or may not include an autopsy.

  • A medical legal investigator will reach out to family if they are needed to identify the deceased at our office. In most cases, the deceased can be identified at the funeral home. Family should not come to the medical examiner’s office unless they are contacted.

  • Family should make arrangements with a funeral home.

Requesting reports

If we performed an autopsy, the treating physician, hospital, or facility where the death occurred can request a copy of the autopsy report.