Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS)
Two Supreme Court judgements made in March 2014 significantly increasing understanding of what, legally, constituted the deprivation of a person’s liberty.
As a result, since Coroners are required to be informed of and/or hold an inquest into any death whilst in custody or in detention authorised by the State, Coroners have been advised that they may wish to consider, and in practice now should consider, most cases of DOLS as amounting to detention by the State.
This means that the Coroner should now be informed, via the usual local route, of any deaths of patients subject to DOLS. Local care and residential homes should already be familiar with these changed procedures, and this will also be relevant to colleagues who work OOHs.
It is, in practice, likely that the Coroner’s Office will contact a patient’s GP to ascertain whether or not they would be in a position to issue a death certificate colleagues should follow usual practice and be guided by the Coroner in terms of writing and issuing a certificate in such cases.
As always, if in doubt, colleagues should report a death to the Coroner but should now certainly do so if a patient is subject to a DOLS Authorisation or, as has been requested by a number of coroners, if the death occurs just after an Urgent Authorisation has expired, even though technically the patient is then not under legal detention.
Rescindment of req. to hold a Coroners Inquest (SSLMCs April 2017)
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Updated on 23 October 2019