When is a Death Reportable?

13 Nov 2017

sara bird

by Dr Sara Bird

Contemplative doctor in scrubs

Recent complaints from Coroners in South Australia and New South Wales highlight the challenge doctors face when determining which deaths are reportable to the Coroner.

In SA there was concern that a number of patient deaths had not been reported, and yet in NSW the State Coroner has lamented that too many natural deaths are being reported to the Coroner's office.

When is a death reportable to the Coroner?

Coronial legislation in each state and territory defines the circumstances in which a person's death must be reported to the Coroner. This is commonly referred to as a “reportable death” and the definitions vary in each state and territory.

In general terms, a death should be reported to the Coroner when:

  • you are unable to form an opinion as to the probable cause of death, or
  • the cause of death is unnatural, violent, suspicious or unusual, or
  • other specific circumstances apply (see Table pp. 6-7).

If you are unsure whether to report a patient death, you can contact your Medical Defence Organisation or the Coroner's office for advice.


This blog contains general information only. We recommend you contact your medical defence organisation or insurer when you require specific advice in relation to medico-legal matters



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