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Appendix A - Deaths Which Must Be Reported to the Coroner

Deaths are reported to the coroner under the Coroners Act 1962 (rules of law) ; in addition, there are local rules which require that other deaths must be reported (rules of practice).

Deaths reportable under rules of law include:

  1. Sudden, unexpected or unexplained deaths.
  2. Where the appropriate registered medical practitioner cannot sign a medical certificate of the cause of death (i.e. a deceased person was not seen and treated within one month before death, or the cause of death is unknown or death may be due to an unnatural cause).
  3. Even where the deceased had been attended by a registered medical practitioner for a documented illness, if the doctor is not satisfied in relation to the cause of death or death has occurred suddenly or unexpectedly, it must be reported.
  4. Sudden infant death. Although the doctor may believe that an infant has died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS, "cot death"), such diagnosis can only be made following a postmortem examination: this applies also to so-called "sudden adult death syndrome" (SADS).
  5. Where a death was directly or indirectly due to unnatural causes, (regardless of the length of time between the injury and death), including:
    • road traffic accident;
    • any accident in the home, workplace or elsewhere;
    • any physical injury;
    • falls and fractures;
    • fractures in the eldery;
    • drug overdose or drug abuse;
    • neglect, including self-neglect;
    • burns or carbon monoxide poisoning;
    • starvation (including anorexia nervosa);
    • exposure and hypothermia;
    • poisoning from any cause – occupational, therapeutic, accidental, suicidal, homicidal and also food poisoning;
    • drowning;
    • hanging;
    • firearms injuries.
  6. Death resulting from an industrial or occupational disease or accident.
  7. Deaths which are directly or indirectly the result of any surgical or medical treatment or any procedure. Where such treatment or procedure may have contributed in any way to death, the matter must be reported to the coroner regardless of the time that has elapsed between the event and death. Any allergic reaction to a drug administered therapeutically, and any toxic reaction or side-effect of a drug which may have caused or contributed to death must be reported.
  8. Where there is any allegation of medical negligence, misconduct or malpractice on the part of any registered medical practitioner, nurse or other person.
  9. Septicaemia which may be caused by injury.
  10. Death occurring during a surgical operation or anaesthesia.
  11. Abortions (other than natural) and certain stillbirths.
  12. Acute alcohol poisoning (chronic alcoholism is reportable, but a medical certificate of the cause of death will normally be accepted, unless there is some element of neglect including self-neglect or injury).
  13. Deaths connected with crime or suspected crime.
  14. Where death may be due to homicide or occurred in suspicious circumstances.
  15. Death of a person in prison or legal custody, including deaths in hospital whilst sentence is being served and deaths in Garda stations.
  16. Death of a person receiving a disability pension – where death is or may be connected with a pensionable disability.
  17. Death of a patient in a mental hospital.
  18. Death of a child in care.
  19. A death which may be due to CJD
  20. Where a person is found dead.
  21. Where human remains are found.
  22. Where the cause of death is unknown or obscure.
  23. Where a body is to be removed out of Ireland.

Deaths reportable under rules of practice :

  1. Where a person is brought in dead (BID; DOA, dead on arrival) to the accident and emergency department of a hospital.
  2. Deaths occurring in an accident and emergency department.
  3. Where a death occurs within 24 hours of admission to hospital.
  4. Where a death occurs within 24 hours of the administration of an anaesthetic, surgical procedure or any procedure. (Note where a death may be due to a complication of an anaesthetic, surgical procedure or any procedure or a drug reaction, it must be reported to the coroner notwithstanding when the death occurs, i.e. whether days, weeks, months or years after the event).
  5. Certain deaths which occur in a department of a hospital, e.g. radiology department, out-patients, physiotherapy, E.C.G., E.E.G., etc.
  6. Maternal deaths
  7. Where a patient dies in hospital, having been recently transferred or discharged from a nursing home or other residential institution (including mental hospital or prison).
  8. Where there is any doubt as to the cause of death.