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Peggy Farooqi
Mum of 3 (1994, 1995, 1998)- born in East Germany --lived in UK/ Kent since 1993 -- studied criminology -- love reading / writing / travelling / needlecraft 
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21 June 2014


Please also read my disclaimer


3. Who can report a death to the Coroner? 

Short answer - anyone! Yes, that's right, you don't have to be a professional to report a death to the Coroner. But let's look who most commonly reports:


1. Medical Professionals 

Mostly it will be hospital doctors who are required to report certain deaths to the Coroner of patients who died in hospital; also GP's (General Practitioner's) when a patient died at home and the cannot issue a Medical Certificate of the cause of death 

(see #2 - reasons why a death needs to be referred to the Coroner.)


2. Police

For any violent / accidental death, the police will be at the scene and will report the death to the Coroner. Also, the police will be called to any death not at hospital where there is no Doctor present who can state that this was an expected death. It will than be up to the Coroner and their appointed funeral director to move the body. 


3. Funeral Directors

Funeral Directors will need to report a death to the Coroner if the plan to move a body out of England/Wales or if a body is coming into the country from abroad (to be buried/cremated in England/Wales).



4. The Registrar of Deaths, Births and Marriages

It does happen sometimes that a death is going to be registered and the Registrars are not content with the cause of death written on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and refer the death to the Coroner. This would only happen if it was not originally referred to the Coroner. One example of this is when a Doctor is not aware that he/she has to refer certain deaths to the Coroner i.e. death related to employment or deaths after an operation. 



5. The family of a deceased person or indeed, anyone (does not need to be the family of the deceased person, could be a friend, carer etc)


It is rare but it does happen that there is no obvious reason why a death needs to be reported to the Coroner (ie. appears completely natural causes) but for some reason the family are unhappy and want the Coroner to investigate. We will ask the family to write in with their particular concerns and provide supporting evidence, and than the Coroner will assess whether it warrants a Coroner's investigation. Quite often, families are unaware what the Coroner actually does and what are our limitations - legal limitations. For example, the Coroner has nothing to do with the litigation process - that is legally very different. Often, families are unhappy about treatment in hospital etc, but again, this is not necessarily something the Coroner would investigate, and we would guide the family to the hospital complaints procedure (which we are not involved in at all). But if this 'complaint' could be linked to the cause of death, than the Coroner could investigate - which would usually mean a post mortem.

Ok, let me give you an example. Lets say the family state that the deceased person was not given enough food and drink in hospital. If the post mortem says that the person died from cancer, than the family would have to take their complaint about the treatment to the hospital. However, if the post mortem finds that malnutrition contributed to the death, than the Coroner would probably start an investigation - only to establish the circumstances of the death and not to 'sue' the hospital. 

And, as always, there are many grey areas ….


Oh, and another thought : A death can only be reported to the Coroner if there is a dead body - so technically, once 'life has been pronounced extinct'. And legally, you are not dead until a person who is authorised to say so pronounces you dead. Causes some confusion sometimes! I will talk about this in next week's post. 


Peggy x