After the person dies—practical steps and legal obligations
Requirements after a death
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act) specifies that certain actions must be undertaken following the death of a person who has accessed voluntary assisted dying.
Authorised voluntary assisted dying practitioners and other medical practitioners have specific obligations when the person dies following self-administration or practitioner administration of the voluntary assisted dying substance, or dies from another cause (for example, as a result of their underlying medical condition).
Death certification following a death resulting from voluntary assisted dying in accordance with the Act follows the same process as certification of any death. A medical practitioner must complete the cause of death certificate within 2 business days of the person’s death.
A death brought about by voluntary assisted dying in accordance with the Act is not reportable to the coroner. More information about the general requirements for death certification and whether a death is reportable is available on the Queensland Courts website and in the Queensland Voluntary Assisted Dying Handbook (QVAD Handbook).
Cause of death
The Act contains specific guidance about the recording of the cause of death. When completing the cause of death certificate, a medical practitioner who knows or reasonably believes that a person self-administered or was administered a voluntary assisted dying substance under the Act:
- must state the cause of death was the disease, illness, or medical condition that was the basis for the person being eligible for voluntary assisted dying, and
- must not refer to voluntary assisted dying (either as a main cause of death or antecedent).
These provisions are designed to protect a person’s privacy and to reflect that the underlying disease, illness, or medical condition would have led to the person’s death.
Role of the coordinating and administering practitioner
The coordinating and administering practitioners are detailed in the QVAD Handbook.
Role of other medical practitioners
- Any medical practitioner can complete a cause of death certificate for a person they know or reasonably believe self-administered or was administered a voluntary assisted dying substance. For example, the person’s GP, palliative care specialist or treating specialist (such as an oncologist or neurologist) may be asked by the person’s family, carers or friends, or the administering practitioner (if this is a nurse practitioner or registered nurse) to certify the death.
- A medical practitioner in these circumstances must submit the Notification of Death Form (Other Medical Practitioner)via the QVAD Review Board IMS within 2 business days of becoming aware that the person has died.