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Incorrect death paperwork

Pear trees

Registered User
Jan 25, 2015
I made an appointment to register my mum's death yesterday after her surgery confirmed their paperwork was ready for collection. However the registrar could not accept it as the doctor had not given cause of death, just pulmonary cardiac arrest and dementia. The registrar called the doctor who said he did not know what to put, as there was no cause of death except for old age (90), which would have been accepted.
So we have to collect the hopefully correct paperwork and get to registrar by 10.30am as that is the only free slot, then straight to funeral directors. I live 90 minutes from my mum's town, more in rush hour.
I was steaming mad and told the surgery that the doctor should stay out of my way, and to written apology!


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
How distressing for you. Can I suggest that you check the paperwork before you leave the office? Because while "old age" can be a valid reason, it should also have the information about any other health issues.

5.3 Avoid ‘old age’ alone
Old age should only be given as the sole cause of death in very limited circumstances. These
are that:
• You have personally cared for the deceased over a long period (years, or many months)
• You have observed a gradual decline in your patient's general health and functioning
• You are not aware of any identifiable disease or injury that contributed to the death
• You are certain that there is no reason that the death should be reported to the coroner
You should bear in mind that coroners, crematorium referees, registrars and organisations that
regulate standards in health and social care, may ask you to support your statement with
information from the patient's medical records and any investigations that might have a bearing
on the cause of death. You should also be aware that the patient’s family may not regard old age
as an adequate explanation for their relative’s death and may request further investigation


Registered User
Nov 7, 2011
I remember feeling physically shocked when I read 'old age' on my mum's death certificate. It's such a dismissive phrase.


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
On mums certificate it said "frailty of old age and dementia"

BTW - I didnt think you were allowed to open the letter confirming death. I was specifically told that I had to leave it intact for the registrar.


Registered User
Jan 16, 2014
Whilst dad's cause of death was correctly described as sepsis and advanced dementia the GP had neglected to write her Registration number on the cert.The registrar tried her best to contact GP while I was there but her day off so I too had to go back another day It is irritating especially as the Dr is paid a fee but the registrar told me GPs often make mistakes and have to be phoned. I would have thought that unless a pm was performed cardiac arrest and dementia was adequate...a GP certifying presumably would not be able to know the exact cause of a heart attack but could summise from medical history or obvious end of life factors.
Last edited:


Registered User
Mar 26, 2011
Near Southampton
On mums certificate it said "frailty of old age and dementia"

BTW - I didnt think you were allowed to open the letter confirming death. I was specifically told that I had to leave it intact for the registrar.
The envelope confirming the certificate was open when my daughter collected my husband’s from the surgery.

He suffered a number of health problems but the cause of death named was Aspiration pneumonia and Vascular dementia, the pneumonia being caused by his swallowing ability being compromised by the dementia.
I too, would have thought that the cause given by the doctor was sufficient.
If a cremation is likely then it will have to be supported by a second doctor too.

Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
I think it's horrid for you to have paperwork delays, Pear Trees. Here's hoping no more mistakes or annoyances for you.

Pear trees

Registered User
Jan 25, 2015
Thanks for all your support. Apparently cardiac arrest is a result, not a cause, and is not accepted for a home death on its own, new form said old age and dementia. The surgery mislaid the paperwork and kept asking me to come back later in the afternoon despite being told by registrar and myself the appointment was 11.00am - I refused to go until they sorted it.
In both cases the envelopes were not sealed.


Registered User
Oct 19, 2009
When William died, it was a Bank Holiday. I didn't know at the time, but apparently all deaths in Nursing Homes here, the Coroner's office has to be notified. Somehow, it wasn't done. William's own GP had to issue the Cause of Death certificate, and she was on holidays. However, the Out of Hours doctor pronounced him dead, the Nursing Home released his body to the funeral directors, and he was buried a week later. Then I got the Cause of Death certificate from his GP, and went to the Registrar to register the death and get the Death certificate. To my shock, the registrar said she couldn't issue the Death Certificate, because the Coroner's office hadn't been notified. I was so upset, and burst into tears, and the Registrar had to reassure me that no, of course they wouldn't have to dig poor William up!

100 miles

Registered User
Apr 16, 2015
Pear trees,

I had a very similar problem. The out of hours doctor was present at death. My mother's GP gave me a cause of death letter even though he was one day over the limit for seeing the patient and so the death should have been referred to the coroner. The register office couldn't accept the cause of death certificate and contacted the coroner, who asked for confirmation from the GP that there were no possible problems with the cause of death.

It was the GP's day off but the register office raised merry hell with the surgery and told them if the GP wanted the day off he should have done his work properly. Confirmation was duly received and I got the death certificate only an hour late. Great service from Register Office.

I hope everything has been sorted for you by now.

100 miles

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