When an unexpected or unexplained death is referred to the NSW Coroner, post-mortem examinations can only be performed by specialist forensic pathologists at one of our three dedicated facilities in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
In addition to forensic pathologists, our teams include:
- forensic mortuary technicians
- forensic medicine social workers
- clinical nurse consultants
- specialist administrative staff.
Forensic odontologists, anthropologists and neuropathologists may be required in some cases. Our teams also work closely with forensic biologists (DNA) and toxicologists from NSW Health Pathology's Criminalistics and Forensic & Environmental Toxicology services.
The Coroners Act 2009 requires cause of death to be determined in the least invasive manner, so Forensic Medicine has clear Clinical Standards defining the extent to which examinations can be performed.
This may include:
- review of medical records
- computed tomography (CT) scanning
- an external examination of the body, and
- the collection of body fluids for toxicology or other laboratory tests.
When non-invasive procedures don’t give enough information to establish cause of death, an examination like a surgical operation may be ordered by the Coroner.
After each referral to the Coroner, a forensic medicine social worker contacts the senior next-of-kin to provide updates on the post-mortem examination process and timeline.
Our forensic medicine social workers arrange viewings at our facilities and provide essential grief resources. We are acutely aware of the diverse religious and cultural needs and make every effort to respect these and assist with the grieving process.
Post-mortem examination reports are prepared specifically for the Coroner. Out of respect for privacy for the deceased people in our care and in line with legislative requirements, we do not release information about specific coronial cases to the media or public. Information about accessing coronial documents is available on the Coroners Court website