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Short Notes on Death 2017 - Dr Mark Burgin

01/12/17.Dr. Mark Burgin BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP considers the elements that should be included in a primer for clinical negligence cases involving the death of the claimant.

About 45% all deaths are reported to the coroner, 20% of all deaths investigated with a post mortem and about 5% of the total deaths are subject to an inquest.

For death certification there is no obligation for the medical or nursing staff to provide any description of the terminal events nor any explanation of their reasoning.

Relatives can feel that their loved one’s death was not given any detailed consideration where for instance, they were previously well and died after a short illness.

Relatives find that although they can report the death the coroner it is not easy to have an inquest opened, with some cases only opened after being considered by the GMC.

Toxicology is performed in only 15% of post mortems making it difficult to challenge the decisions of the pathologist in cases where medication is suspected as a cause. (1)

CT/MRI virtual autopsy

Post mortem imaging has not reached the point where ‘virtopsy’ could replace autopsy as an investigation of death, mainly due to missing medical causes of sudden death. (2)

Medicolegally a post mortem is condition and prognosis report and where the coroner declines to order an autopsy the relatives have lost a valuable piece of evidence...

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