Why has a post mortem got to be carried out? A post-mortem examination, also known as an autopsy, is the examination of a body after death. The aim of a post-mortem is to determine the cause of death. A post mortem may be carried out and the coroner informed if the following happen:
- Cause of death is unknown
- Death was sudden and unexplained
- Person who died was not visited by a medical practitioner during their final illness
- Person who died wasn’t seen by the doctor who signed the medical certificate within 14 days before or after they died.
- Death occurred during an operation
The coroner may decide a post-mortem is needed to find out how the person died. This can be done either in a hospital or mortuary.
You can’t object to a coroner’s post-mortem – but if you’ve asked the coroner must tell you (and the person’s GP) when and where the examination will take place.
After the post-mortem
The coroner will release the body for a funeral once they have completed the post-mortem examinations and no further examinations are needed.
If the body is released with no inquest, the coroner will send a form (‘Pink Form – form 100B’) to the registrar stating the cause of death.
The coroner will also send a ‘Certificate of Coroner – form Cremation 6’ if the body is to be cremated.
If the coroner decides to hold an inquest
A coroner must hold an inquest if the cause of death is still unknown, or if the person:
- possibly died a violent or unnatural death
- died in prison or police custody
You can’t register the death until after the inquest. The coroner is responsible for sending the relevant paperwork to the registrar.
The death can’t be registered until after the inquest, but the coroner can give you an interim death certificate to prove the person is dead. When the inquest is over the coroner will tell the registrar what to put in the register.