Sometimes it is not possible for a doctor to issue a death certificate. The death may have been sudden or unexplained, the result of a road accident, or soon after admission to hospital. These are just some of the reasons why a death may be reported to the coroner.
The coroner is a judicial officer whose function it is to determine the cause of death in all cases where a doctor has not been able to issue a death certificate. The fact that a death has been reported to the coroner should not give cause for undue alarm. It is simply the process by which the cause of death must be established in cases where a normal death certificate cannot be issued.
Sometimes the coroner may be able to deal with the case by consultation with the doctor. The coroner may then agree that the doctor may issue a death certificate and registration of the death can then take place in the normal manner.
In cases that cannot be resolved by consultation between the doctor and coroner, the coroner will require a post-mortem examination. This usually shows death was due to natural causes, in which case no inquest will be held and the coroner will send a form to the Registrar of Deaths indicating that registration may take place.
Where the death was not due to natural causes, for example a road traffic accident, the coroner will hold an inquest. The purpose of an inquest is to establish the identity of the deceased, when and how the death took place and the actual cause of death. Following the inquest the coroner will issue an interim certificate for either burial or cremation, to allow the funeral to take place. He may then adjourn the inquest and reconvene it at a later date, having gathered relevant information relating to the death.
If the inquest is adjourned, the coroner can issue the family with an interim death certificate. This will enable any insurance policies or administration of estate.
H.V. Taylor & Son Funeral Directors is fully conversant with all the coroner’s procedures and can advise you fully.