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Referral to a coroner

COVID-19 is a naturally occurring disease and therefore is capable of being a natural cause of death. A death that has other additional factors which mean a report of death to the coroner is necessary – for example where the cause is not clear, or where there are other relevant factors. There may also be cases where an otherwise natural causes death could be considered unnatural.

Reportable deaths include:

  • Death due to poisoning, including by an otherwise benign substance
  • Death due to exposure to or contact with a toxic substance
  • Death due to the use of a medicinal product, controlled drug or psychoactive substance
  • Death due to violence
  • Death due to trauma or injury
  • Death due to self-harm
  • Death due to neglect, including self-neglect
  • Death due to the person undergoing a treatment or procedure of a medical or similar nature
  • Death due to an injury or disease attributable to any employment held by the person during the person’s lifetime
  • Death due to unnatural causes but does not fall within any of the circumstances listed in sub-paragraph (a)
  • Cause of death unknown
  • Death in custody or otherwise in state detention
  • No attending medical practitionerwithin a reasonable time frame
  • Unknown identity of the deceased.

 

The Ministry of Justice have revised notification of death regulations – when to refer a death to the Coroner during the COVID-19 pandemic

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878083/revised-guidance-for-registered-medical-practitioners-on-the-notification-of-deaths-regulations.pdf

 

The Ministry of Justice have revised notification of death regulations – when to refer a death to the Coroner during the COVID-19 pandemic

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878083/revised-guidance-for-registered-medical-practitioners-on-the-notification-of-deaths-regulations.pdf

 

The aim should be that every death from COVID-19 which does not in law require referral to the coroner should be dealt with via the MCCD process.  This has full agreement of the Chief Coroner and the National Medical Examiner – full guidance from the Chief Coroner can be found here:

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Chief-Coroner-Guidance-No.-34-COVID-19_26_March_2020-.pdf

 

It is important to remember to consider an individual’s occupation when the death is related to COVID-19. If there is cause to suspect that the illness was acquired through exposure related to their occupation, the death should be notified to the coroner. The Chief Coroners guidance regarding COVID-19 deaths and possible exposure in the workplace can be found here https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Chief-Coroners-Guidance-No-37-28.04.20.pdf