Ask Jennings.ie: What is a Post Mortem?
A post-mortem, sometimes referred to as an autopsy, is an examination of a person who has died to determine the exact casue of death.
When is a Post Mortem Necessary?
If someone dies, and they have no history of an illness or haven’t been attending a doctor, a post-mortem (PM) will be required to determine the cause of death.
In cases where a person dies, and the reason is unclear, a doctor will not sign a ‘Death Notification Form’. This makes it impossible to obtain a Death Certificate and proceed with a funeral; therefore a Coroner will order a PM in order to ascertain the cause of death.
Can I object to a Post Mortem?
If the post mortem has been ordered by the Coroner you cannot object or stop a post mortem taking place.
If a person dies in hospital and the Hospital authorities ask your permission to perform a Post Mortem, you may refuse if you wish- provided that there is a Doctor willing to issue a Death Notification Form.
Often people who were in hospital may have been suffering from several related illnesses-for instance coronary issues and lung or other organs problems-and the specific cause of death may be a combination of factors. If a family wants to have a PM, they may request one at the hospital.
Coroners Post Mortems
A Coroner does not need the consent of the next-of-kin to have a post mortem examination carried out. They will act as sensitively as possible in their dealings with the family, but must perform a special medical examination of the body to identify the medical cause of death and to determine whether any further action on the part of the Coroner is required.
This examination is carried out by a pathologist, usually in the nearest local or regional hospital. A pathologist is a specialist doctor trained to identify disease in organs and tissues.
Families worry that their loved one may be somehow disfigured after a PM. Please note that in carrying out this examination, there is no disfigurement and the deceased may be viewed in the same manner as if no post mortem had been carried out.
Post Mortem Results
Depending on how complex a medical case the examination is, results may be available quickly – however in the case of toxicology testing (testing for alcohol, medications) are required, it could be longer.
A death cannot be registered until a post mortem report is received. Any enquiries should be made to the relevant Coroner’s office rather than the hospital concerned. Our Jennings Funeral Director will be able to assist you in determining the details and timeframe in the event of a PM being ordered by the Coroner.
Just call us at 01 855 5511 or see www.jennings.ie for more information