A post mortem will be required if a doctor either:
- can't say what the likely cause of death was; or
- didn't treat the deceased during their last illness.
Usually the only way a post mortem can be conducted is by way of a physical examination carried out by a Pathologist. However, in some cases of traumatic injury, a family can choose to pay privately for a post mortem to be conducted by a CT scan. This is not available in all cases because CT imagining does not routinely show the most common causes of death.
If the deceased (person who died) wasn't in a state of detention at the time of their death and the post mortem reveals a natural cause of death, the Coroner will issue a Form B to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages so that the death can be registered.
If the post mortem doesn't provide a cause of death then a Coroner's Inquest is needed and the Coroner will carry out further investigations; this may involve more medical tests and/or collecting evidence from witnesses.