Medical setting deaths & coronial reporting

Are there weaknesses in a coronial system that relies on the treating doctor to determine whether a case should be reported to the coroner, when that doctor may be the person whose performance will be scrutinised if a coroner investigates the death?

An interesting article by Sarah Middleton & Michael Buist is now available online in the Melbourne University Law Review, entitled The coronial reporting of medical setting deaths: A legal analysis of the variation in Australian jurisdictions.

The article examines:

  • the current Australian law on the circumstances in which a medical-setting death is reportable to the coroner and the penalties
    that apply when a reportable death is not reported;
  • the legal obligations of doctors when a patient dies and what is known about the problem of under reporting of deaths to the coroner;
  • the offences and penalties that attach to a failure to comply with coronial reporting obligations from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, again identifying varying approaches and penalties.