Coroners' autopsies: quality concerns in the United Kingdom. Academic Article uri icon


  • Safety in health care has increasingly become a key focus of health care providers. Data on "patient outcomes" and evidence-based clinical decision-making have led to real changes in health care policy and care provision. Specialist groups such as the National Patient Safety Agency which operates the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) in the United Kingdom are reliant on good information in order to identify factors that lead to poor patient care. In a recent study the NCEPOD reviewed the quality of coroners' autopsy reports on which they rely for much of their core data. The study found that just over half of the reports (52%) were considered satisfactory by the reviewers, 19% were good and 4% were excellent. However, over a quarter of autopsies were marked as poor or of an unacceptable standard. While analysing the factors associated with poor-quality autopsies, comments and recommendations were made with regard to the processes of death investigation and the degree to which the coroner's death investigation meets the needs of health care services.

publication date

  • February 1, 2007