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When Should a Death Be Reported to a Coroner?

Category: What To Do When Someone Dies

If a loved one has passed away, there will be a number of things you’ll have to organise which can be extremely difficult during such a stressful time.

One of the issues to tackle, in certain circumstances, is reporting a death to a coroner.

This short guide will help you understand more if you think you may need to instigate a coroner investigation.

What is a coroner and what do they do?

A coroner is a medical professional who looks into violent, sudden or suspicious deaths.

In cases in which the cause of death is not known, a coroner must be alerted as it is important for the authorities to understand how the passing of a loved one has happened.

If you have been unfortunate to lose somebody close to you and you don’t know how, it is likely that a doctor will pass the case onto a coroner.

Other reasons for a coroner to be contacted include;
If any of the above, including a violent, sudden or suspicious death has taken place, the coroner must be contacted, though it will usually be a doctor or member of the police to carry out the contact.

  • The person who died was not visited by a medical professional in the final stages of their illness
  • A medical certificate is not available
  • The person was not visited by a doctor who signed their medical certificate within 14 days before passing away
  • Death occurred during an operation or before the person woke up from anaesthetic
  • The medical certificate suggests that the death may have been caused by an industrial disease or industrial poisoning.

What happens during a coroner investigation?

If a coroner is looking into the circumstances around a death, it is likely that they will perform a post mortem.

This is a critical aspect of finding out what happened and the process is carried out in a hospital or a mortuary.

If this is going to take place, you cannot object to a postmortem being carried out however, you will be told where it is taking place.

Though this may be a distressing thought, it is critical that you know what the cause of death is because a death certificate needs an official cause of death in order for it to be submitted.

How to obtain a coroner’s report

A coroner’s report is not usually a document written to make sense to a member of the public as it contains technical medical information and the full details of an investigation.

For example, the report may contain scientific information on DNA samples, using language that may be difficult to understand unless you are a specialist in human biology.

The report will also contain the exact details of how your loved one has passed away and though you may want to have a better idea of what happened, it may also be distressing to read.

That is why it is important to consider applying for access before proceeding.

If you still want to access a coroner’s report, you can either ask the coroner’s office to write to the Coroner concerned or write to the hospital where the examination took place to apply to the coroner’s office.