Coronial Investigations and Inquests

Certain deaths need to be reported to the Coroner. Requirements differ throughout Australia, but generally the following deaths are reportable to the Coroner:

  • You cannot certify cause of death
  • There are unexpected outcomes from health care.

The Role of the Coroner

The Coroner’s role is to determine time, manner and cause of death, and consider if any recommendations can be made to improve public safety. 

Although significant numbers of deaths are reported to the Coroner, very few matters, usually between 1 to 2% of all deaths reported, proceed to an inquest. 

Health care matters which may proceed to inquest include those which raise broader or recurrent issues, or where there have been a number of similar deaths. 

Tego Insurance – Expert Medico-Legal Advice

As medical indemnity insurance providers in Australia, Tego is here to help you. We understand the healthcare regulatory landscape is constantly evolving, but it is essential that you keep up to date with the rules and regulations when it comes to the death of a patient.

Coronial Investigations

It is not uncommon for a medical practitioner, either in a private or public setting, to be asked to provide a statement, give an interview to police or to provide clinical records in the context of a coronial investigation.  This is just part of the process and does not mean a matter will go to formal inquest.

Usually police conduct coronial investigations and are not indicative of anything criminal.  Instead, conducting coronial investigations and, in some cases, inquests, are also part of police functions. 

If you receive a request for a statement, interview or to provide records in a coronial investigation, you should contact Tego and speak with a member of our medico-legal team for advice and support. 

Further Information on Coroners

A Coroner may issue a subpoena or warrant to obtain the practitioner’s clinical records and there is a legal obligation to comply. 

Following provision of the clinical records, in some states and territories there is no ongoing legal obligation to provide any assistance to the Coroner’s investigators.  Even if an obligation exists, there may be a proper basis to object to doing so.

Any statement obtained or interview given during the Coroner’s investigation may be used in any subsequent inquest. 

In most cases, we recommend that you cooperate by providing information to assist the investigation.  This information can often be provided in writing, in the form of a statement or report on patient management.

We are here to help

Tego Insurance offers a range of different insurances for the healthcare industry… from medical indemnity insurance, to medical malpractice insurance, from doctors indemnity insurance to medical practice insurance, and more.

It’s our deep commitment to protect our clients and their patients that drives us to provide leading cover with more choice, innovation and greater flexibility. 

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss su­ffered in connection with the use of this information.