Step 1: Plan - Identify the Decedent(s)
Next of kin and families will often question the Death Notification Team about the identity of the decedent. They are often in a state of shock, disbelief, and denial. You need to know how the decedent was identified. It is critical that you know this information and confirm it as the Next of Kin will ask if you are certain. They want reassurance that you have identified their loved one with 100% accuracy. Who identified their loved one and how confident are you that that person is correct? Visual identifications are not best practices for identification.
You should become familiar with your local jurisdiction’s process for identification of decedents by speaking with your local Coroner or Medical Examiner. Some jurisdictions require forensic identification through either fingerprints, dental, or DNA. Once the identity of the decedent has been confirmed, next you will need to determine the legal Next of Kin. This is the person who is legally entitled to receive the official notification. In addition to identifying the Next of Kin, you also need to determine where this person(s) is located. Are they in your jurisdiction or do they live in another jurisdiction? If they live outside of your jurisdiction, a remote notification may be necessary. This type of notification will be discussed later on in this module.
The Next of Kin and families will often question the Death Notification Team about the identity of the decedent.
- How was the decedent identified?
- Determine the Next Of Kin
- Determine the location of the Next Of Kin