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CQC Essentials: Death notifications

Information explainng when GP practices should inform the CQC of a death that occurred while a person is receiving care from the practice.

This article relates to the CQC key questions: Is your practice safe? and Is your practice well-led?

GP practices registered with CQC are required (under the Health and Social Care Act 2008) to notify us of a number of incidents, events, and changes. This includes notifications of the death of a patient.

Providers do not need to notify CQC about every death of a registered patient.

However, they must provide details if the death occurred while care was actually being provided, for example:

  • while a patient was in consultation with their GP
  • while at their health centre or surgery
  • during a home visit.

In addition, providers must notify us of deaths that occurred within two weeks of a clinical interaction with practice staff if:

  • the death was, or may have been, as a result of the care or how it was provided, and
  • could not be attributed to the course which the illness or medical condition would naturally have taken if the deceased had been receiving appropriate care and treatment.

You would not, for example, need to notify us of the death of a cancer patient that had an appointment for pain relieving medication the previous week.

A fictitious example of a death that CQC should be notified of

A patient in a dispensing practice is on a repeat prescription for morphine sulphate 10mg twice a day for chronic pain. The patient requests a prescription and, in error, a prescription is issued for morphine sulphate 100mg twice a day.

The medication is dispensed by the practice dispensary and the patient’s wife, who looks after his medicines, gives her husband 100mg tablets of morphine sulphate. He takes two doses over the next day and then his wife is unable to rouse him in the morning. He is admitted to hospital where he has a cardiac arrest and dies.

The death should be reported to CQC as the person died within a few days of receiving care from the practice when a prescribing error has been made.

These notifications must be submitted without delay.

Read full guidance on these notifications and access notification forms.

  • Professor Nigel Sparrow is senior national GP advisor and responsible officer at the CQC

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