Post Mortems

How to Organise a Private Post Mortem in the UK


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Organising a Private Post Mortem

What is a Post Mortem?

A post mortem examination is the examination of the human body after death has occurred. It is sometimes known as an autopsy. The purpose of the post mortem is to determine the cause of death.

Post mortems are carried out by specialist doctors. These doctors are called pathologists and they specialize in the nature and understanding of disease.

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Like most professions, pathologists have appropriate standards to adhere to and these are set by The Royal College of Pathologists, which is a professional membership organisation with over 11,000 members who are doctors or scientists working in hospitals or universities all over the UK.

Why is a Post Mortem carried out?

Post mortem examinations are carried out if the death has been referred to the coroner or the hospital has requested it.

Coroner’s Post Mortem

  • The death has been reported to the Coroner, who then is of the opinion that a post mortem is necessary to determine the cause of death ie ‘if the death is referred to the coroner by the police, GP or hospital doctor’.
  • A death will be referred to a Coroner if it is sudden or unexpected, violent or unnatural, an accident, if it occurred during medical treatment/surgery in hospital or the doctor treating the deceased had not seen the patient within 14 days of their death and the cause of the death is unknown.
  • Interestingly, if the pathologist carrying out the post mortem at the coroner’s request, wants to take tissue samples during the post mortem examination (ie to establish cause of death) then consent from the next of kin is not required. Although the coroner must handle organs and tissue samples in accordance with the next of kin’s wishes and these samples can be kept by the coroner until after the inquest has taken place or even longer in some cases.
  • If the death is treated as suspicious then the police may also need to keep samples as well as evidence to an investigation.
  • If a coroners post mortem is to be carried out, the family will not be asked for permission for the post mortem examination to go ahead.

Hospital Post Mortem

  • The hospital requests that it is done to provide information about the cause of death, the illness or to further medical research.

If you have concerns in relating to post mortem examination or lack of examination we can assist you. We are here to help whatever the issue may be. Call 020 7485 8811 and ask for Stephanie Prior.

Our Promise to You

  • We will review your situation by advising you on the relevant procedure.
  • We will not charge a fee for our time in reviewing your case.
  • We can assist you with any issues that you may have regarding the complaints procedure or that you encounter in obtaining copies of your medical records/medical reports.
  • We will advise you of the course of action in respect to your case.

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