Demand for coroner inquests 'is on the rise'
RELATIVES of people who die increasingly want their loved one's deaths investigated by a coroner, according to the man who conducted the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar.
Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, a GP and barrister, said that suspected unnatural deaths are typically reported by gardai or medical practitioners such as doctors and nurses.
The coroner for west Galway told a conference of lawyers and medics that medical professionals should be aware that relatives are increasingly seeking coroner's inquests following the death of a family member.
"It is more frequent now for relatives to report an incident to the coroner," said Dr MacLoughlin, who said that his life changed after he was appointed to his post.
The coroner said that the current mix of appointing lawyers and doctors as coroners is the "best solution" given the wide range of deaths that must be reported for investigation.
Dr MacLoughlin, who reviewed a series of cases he investigated, said that most hospital deaths are contemplated but not intended, resulting in death by medical misadventure.
He did not cite his recent handling of the Savita case.
Dr MacLoughlin said that the practice of multiple teams making notes for four or five hospital consultants at a time was creating difficulties in the investigation of hospital deaths.
"That is causing a certain degree of a problem for hospitals as they have to try and ascertain who made all the entries onto hospital records," he said.