When is a Death Reportable?

14 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



Doctors Let's Talk: Get Yourself A Fricking GP

Get yourself a fricking GP stat! is a conversation with Dr Lam, 2019 RACGP National General Practitioner of the Year, rural GP and GP Anesthetics trainee, that explores the importance of finding your own GP as a Junior Doctor.


25 Oct 2022

Systematic efforts to reduce harms due to prescribed opioids – webinar recording

Efforts are underway across the healthcare system to reduce harms caused by pharmaceutical opioids. This 43-min recording of a live webinar, delivered 11 March 2021, is an opportunity for prescribers to check, and potentially improve, their contribution to these endeavours. Hear from an expert panel about recent opioid reforms by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 

Diplomacy in a hierarchy: tips for approaching a difficult conversation

Have you found yourself wondering how to broach a tough topic of conversation? It can be challenging to effectively navigate a disagreement with a co-worker, especially if they're 'above' you; however, it's vital for positive team dynamics and safe patient care. In this recording of a live webinar you'll have the opportunity to learn from colleagues' experiences around difficult discussions and hear from a diverse panel moderated by Dr Kiely Kim (medico-legal adviser and general practitioner). Recorded live on 2 September 2020.