Friday, 13 August 2010

It's the weekend, spend the ash cash?

It's the weekend and Dr Jr will be taking a well earned break from hospital. That said, I have a very good day today on the whole. Much more relaxed. I was still an hour late getting away, but that's more down to me arriving 15 minutes late and having a 1 hour "lunch" break (late in because of having my car towed to the garage and an hour at lunchtime to collect the car).

I signed my first cremation form today. For those of you who don't know, anyone who wants to get cremated needs a doctor to sign them off for it, after death. As this falls outside the NHS, there is a fee which ends up in my pocket down the line somewhere. It's commonly referred to as "ash cash".

Now I'm never sure about the ethics of this. Should I accept money for signing someone off to burnt? Is it ethically wrong? There's several schools of thought. One is that, no, profiting from someone's death is wrong, but then what would we do without undertakers? The other is that it is my duty to provide a death certificate. Anything beyond that is beyond what I am duty bound to do and therefore am doing it as a service to those who are deceased.

It's anything but free...
It actually carries a hefty legal responsibility. I have to be absolutely certain and beyond any doubt that the patient has died of medically natural causes. If there is absolutely any suggestion of foul play, negligence or the patient died of a communicable disease, then I cannot do the form as cremating someone instantly destroys the evidence.

On top of that, if the patient has a pacemaker or IED (implantable electrical defibrillator), it needs to be removed. If I miss it, and they go into the crematorium, there will be an explosion that will do thousands of pounds worth of damage to the cremation chamber and cause unimaginable distress to the family of the deceased. I then, of course, would need to pay for a new crematorium.

So, all that in mind, I think I'll take the money, thank you very much!

Have a good weekend folks!

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