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Outside the Lab Profession, Forensics, Clinical care

Death Under Scrutiny

As of April 2019, the UK has implemented rollout of a national system of medical examiners to increase patient safety and support bereaved families – a step forward that I believe will provide increased accountability, sensitivity, and credibility to the processes surrounding a death.

What is a medical examiner? These doctors are senior physicians from a range of disciplines including pathology, primary care, acute medicine, and many other specialties. They act as independent doctors in the review of deaths. Why has the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) decided to employ medical examiners? Three independent inquiries into NHS failings – the Shipman Inquiry, the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, and the Report of the Morecambe Bay Investigation – recommended that certificates for cause of death should be scrutinized by an independent doctor.

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About the Author

Jo Martin

Jo Martin is President of the Royal College of Pathologists, Professor of Pathology at Queen Mary University of London, and Director of Academic Health Sciences at Barts Health NHS Trust.

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