Post mortems

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.

Birmingham City Council have agreed to a trial with Igene to enable the Birmingham and Solihull Coroners to use Computed Tomography Post Mortems (CTPM). It will not be possible for the Coroner to authorise CTPM for all cases at this stage; however consideration will be given for cases where the death was traumatic. The reason for choosing these cases is that research has shown they are the most suitable for CTPM. We hope after the trial to have positive results which will lead to further discussions to extend the project.

Families that want a CTPM for cases not in the trial can still request them, and the coroner will consider each request. In these cases, however, the family will be responsible for the costs. Please note that CTPM can often take longer than a standard post mortem, as we have to wait for the scan to be completed and reported before we can determine if there is an acceptable cause 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.

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