Two bills are requiring nursing homes and assisted living facilities to report all deaths to a coroner, as soon as possible, before moving the body. The coroner will then be responsible for determining the cause of death and decide if a further investigation is required.
Currently only suspicious deaths need to be reported to coroners, but the two new bills will require that all deaths are reported to a coroner. The idea for the bills came from a concerned coroner who indicated that some of the deceased bodies coming from nursing homes and assisted care facilities should have been reported to a coroner before any further action was taken.
CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association Zach Shamberg criticizes the introduction of the bills, claiming that the legislation “assumes the worst” of care professionals. Shamberg indicated that the primary focus of nurses is to support the family and meet their needs during a time of loss and a review by a coroner could increase trauma. He further indicates that it would only be fair to also include home health, hospice care, hospitals and other facilities in the bill, as well as they also have patients who pass away in their facilities.
The two bills are part of a larger legislative package, called the “Promise of Care”, aimed at protecting residents and increasing transparency.