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Pronouncing an unattended death

2011 June 7
by admin

Recently a volunteer with the local Funeral Consumer Alliance affiliate did some checking on a few items people ask about:

If it is an “Unattended” death at home … how soon do I need to call 911 (if the deceased wasn’t under hospice care or your attending physician can’t come to the home to pronounce the death)?

The family should call 911 within 30 minutes of the time of death. According to Sarah Scott, Chief Administrative Officer at the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, any further delay will “complicate the investigation.”

When you call 911, Emergency Services personnel will ask questions about the state of the body to determine whether to make a Code 1 response OR a Code 3 response.

  • A Code 1 response is typically made by an EMS Commander, who will arrive in an EMS staff car. No lights or sirens will be used.
  • A Code 3 response involves lights, sirens, and, typically, the fire department too. (Even though Fire Department personnel cannot pronounce the death, they come because they are usually able to arrive sooner since there are twice as many fire stations as EMS stations.)
    Note: If it is determined that the response will be a Code 3, you can still request a “Code 1 approach” so that lights and sirens won’t disturb your neighbors, etc.

EMS does not honor an Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resusitate (OOH-DNR) over the phone. They have to see the document, or medical jewelry, in person.

Cost Per EMS Billing (512-972-7210) (as of June 6, 2011)

  • $815.00 (EKG, IV and/or other resuscitation therapy)
  • $415.00 (no EKG, IV, or resuscitation therapy)
  • If the Fire Department responds there is no charge for their services
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