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

Article


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), pp. 101-108. https://doi.org/10.1258/rsmmsl.49.2.101
Article Title

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

ERA Journal ID34330
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsCarpenter, Belinda (Author), Tait, Gordon (Author), Barnes, Michael (Author), Adkins, Glenda (Author), Naylor, Charles (Author) and Begum, Nelufa (Author)
Journal TitleMedicine Science and the Law
Journal Citation49 (2), pp. 101-108
Number of Pages8
Year2009
Place of PublicationLondon, United Kingdom
ISSN0025-8024
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1258/rsmmsl.49.2.101
Web Address (URL)http://msl.rsmjournals.com/content/49/2/101
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.

KeywordsQueensland laws; autopsy; cause of death; coroner; decision making; human; legal aspect
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020319901. Forensic biology
320220. Pathology (excl. oral pathology)
500311. Philosophical psychology (incl. moral psychology and philosophy of action)
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Byline AffiliationsQueensland University of Technology
Queensland State Coroner Office, Australia
School of Management and Marketing
Department of Health, Queensland
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