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Medical Examiner

How can I contact the medical examiner's office?

The medical examiner’s office for this NHS hospital trust is based at Southport and Formby District General Office, Town Lane, Kew, Southport, PR8 6PN.

You can contact the medical examiner office Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm by email or by telephoning 01704 704509.

You can also ask the bereavement service to contact the medical examiner office for you.

Who are medical examiners and medical examiner officers?

Since 2019, some senior NHS doctors have chosen to receive specialist training and to spend some of their time working as medical examiners. Alongside other specially trained staff, their job is to give independent advice about what caused deaths (except for deaths which have to be reviewed by a coroner).

Medical examiners and their staff (usually called medical examiner officers) offer families and carers of the person who has died an opportunity to raise questions or concerns about the causes of death, or about the care the person received before their death.  This will usually be through a telephone call, or sometimes a meeting.  They can explain what medical language means, and make it easier to understand.  Medical examiners also look at the relevant medical records, and discuss the causes of death with the doctor filling in the official form (its official name is the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death).

You can be confident medical examiners and their staff they will provide an independent view, as they will only work on deaths of people where they or their staff have not provided care for the patient.

Coroners

When the coroner starts an investigation into a death, the coroner (not the medical examiner) investigates the death independently, though the medical examiner may still provide expert medical advice to the coroner.  Some deaths must be notified to the coroner.  You can also get the guidance in other formats by emailing the Ministry of Justice.

Why am I being asked if I have any concerns?

A discussion with a medical examiner or their staff provides you with an opportunity to have an open and honest conversation with someone who was not involved in providing care to the person who died, and anything about the care that may be worrying or of concern.  It could be as simple as helping you to understand more about the treatment and causes of death or to understand the medical language used, or there may be something about the care which did not feel right or ideal.

This is an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns.

The medical examiner will provide an independent view of causes of death and the care provided.  Medical examiners and their staff will discuss your thoughts, questions and concerns, and if they find issues with care that need further investigation, medical examiners will refer these to someone who can do this.

As well as answering your questions, this can help the NHS provide better care for other patients and carers in future, for example by uncovering ways in which patient and family care could be improved.

What questions will I be asked?

The medical examiner or their staff will explain what is written on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and why, to check if you have any questions or concerns.  They will also discuss the medical examiner’s review and ask if there are any concerns or questions about the care the person received before their death.  This is the best time for you to ask any questions you have about the death and to speak about anything that concerns you.

What if I don’t want to speak to the medical examiner or their staff, or I don’t want to tell them about my concerns?

We understand this is likely to be a difficult time for many people, speaking to someone is completely your choice.  If you are not sure, you can contact the medical examiner or their staff and ask for more information before deciding if you want to go ahead – they are trained to help people during these difficult family times and will be very understanding.

Medical examiners are independent, so we would like you to speak to them or their staff if possible.  They will help to explain things to you and are specially trained to answer your questions.  If medical examiners find any potential issues, they will be able to raise these with people responsible for the care of the person who died, or refer the issues to someone who can investigate further.

Speaking with the medical examiner and their staff can help improve the care provided by the NHS to other patients and carers in future.

What will happen if something was not right?

The medical examiner and their staff are here to listen to your questions and concerns, provide answers if possible and, if necessary, pass them on to someone who can investigate further.  Medical examiners will not investigate further themselves, as they must complete their work within set time limits for the death certification process.

Will funeral plans or release of the body take longer?

Medical examiners make every effort to avoid any delays and work with families and carers of the person who died to meet the legal requirements for registering deaths.  Medical examiners and their staff will try to be flexible, for example where relatives need access to the body, or release of the body quickly.

What can I do if I have questions or concerns about the medical examiner process?

If you are not satisfied with the medical examiner’s advice, we suggest you discuss this with staff from the medical examiner’s office at first.  If you are still not satisfied, you can also contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) by email or by telephoning 01704 704703.

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