Guidance, grief resources and support for grieving families
The anticipated or actual loss of a loved one can be devastating. It can also be overwhelming and a time of great confusion. Main Line Health would like to provide you with support and loss and grief resources during this difficult time.
The hospital’s responsibility at the death of a patient
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires hospitals to take certain steps after the death of a patient to ensure compliance with regulations.
- In accordance with the Pennsylvania Anatomical Gift Act, The Gift of Life organ donation agency must be notified within one hour of death. They will evaluate the potential for a gift, and if appropriate, may reach out to next of kin or decision-maker.
- A decision must be made regarding the disposition of your loved one’s remains. Once 36 hours have passed without a decision, the hospital is required to notify Humanities Gifts for potential donation.
- It is our honor and responsibility to ensure that you have the information you need to make the right decision for your family. Please ask if you have any questions.
The family’s responsibility at the death of a loved one
The family as a whole, the decision-maker, next-of-kin, or designee has an important role to play during the time surrounding the death of a loved one. The family should:
- Communicate any cultural, spiritual or special needs to our staff
- Inform your nurse if a funeral home selection has already been made. We can help facilitate this process. See the local area loss and grief resources for individual Main Line Health hospitals.
Notify nurse/provider if an autopsy is requested. A consent for this must be signed and witnessed by physician and family.
- Know that if the coroner has ordered an autopsy, there is no additional autopsy charge. A medical examiner may take jurisdiction over a body when appropriate to the situation.
- Decide about the disposition of your loved one’s remains within 36 hours of the person’s passing.
Questions for consideration at the loss of a loved one
To support your loved one’s wishes from the earliest possible moment, our staff members will need to know (and we encourage you to share) important information, such as:
- Do you have a funeral home pre-selected?
- Can we contact that service for you?
- Are there any religious customs that need to be followed?
- Are you planning a humanities gift (donation to science)?
- Will there be a request for an autopsy?
- Is your loved one a veteran*?
*Veteran’s Administration may handle aftercare for all veterans with honorable discharge.
Refer to advance care planning for information about advance directives and end-of-life wishes, whether for yourself or a loved one.