Increasing the information available to coroners: The effect on autopsy decision-making

Carpenter, Belinda, Tait, Gordon, Barnes, Michael, Adkins, Glenda, Naylor, Charles and Begum, Nelufa (2009) Increasing the information available to coroners: The effect on autopsy decision-making. Medicine Science and the Law, 49 2: 101-108. doi:10.1258/rsmmsl.49.2.101


Author Carpenter, Belinda
Tait, Gordon
Barnes, Michael
Adkins, Glenda
Naylor, Charles
Begum, Nelufa
Title Increasing the information available to coroners: The effect on autopsy decision-making
Journal name Medicine Science and the Law   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0025-8024
2042-1818
Publication date 2009-04
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1258/rsmmsl.49.2.101
Volume 49
Issue 2
Start page 101
End page 108
Total pages 8
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Royal Society of Medicine Press
Language eng
Abstract This paper details research completed in 2007 which investigated autopsy decision-making in a death investigation. The data was gathered during the first year of operation in Queensland, Australia, of a new Coroners Act which changed the process of death investigation in three ways which are important to this paper. First, it required a greater amount of information to be gathered at the scene by police: this included a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the death, including statements from witnesses, friends and family, as well as evidence gathering at the scene. Second, it required coroners, for the first time, to determine the level of invasiveness required in the autopsy to complete the death investigation. Third, it enabled any genuine family concerns to be communicated to the coroner. The outcome of such information was threefold: (i) a greater amount of information offered to the coroner led to a decrease in the number of full internal autopsies ordered, but an increase in the number of partial internal autopsies ordered; (ii) this shift in autopsy decision-making by coroners saw certain factors given greater importance than others in decisions to order full internal, or external only, autopsies; (iii) a raised family concern had a significant impact on autopsy decision-making and tended to decrease the invasiveness of the autopsy ordered by the coroner.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences -- Publications
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