Advertisement

Turnaround time data for Coronial autopsies – time to complete forensic post-mortem examination reports and influencing factors for Australia and New Zealand in 2015 and 2010

  • Neil E. I. Langlois
  • Claire J. Sully
  • Suzanne Edwards
Original Article

Abstract

This study aimed to provide information regarding key performance indicators (KPIs) for forensic pathology in Australia and New Zealand, focusing on the time to complete a Coronial post-mortem examination report. Data was obtained from the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). The mean and median time to complete a post-mortem examination report in 2015 was determined from a sample of 100 cases from each of the nine Coronial jurisdictions. Results of univariate and multivariable analysis of factors potentially influencing the completion time are presented. The multivariable analysis indicated the time to complete a post-mortem examination report was significantly dependent on if any internal examination had been performed, the Coronial jurisdiction and requesting toxicological analysis. The number of days for Coroners to close cases is also presented as well as the number of days for a post-mortem examination to be performed. A comparison between 2015 and 2010 was instigated. However, this data had to be constrained to eight of the Coronial jurisdictions. Within this dataset, the time to complete a post-mortem examination report when an internal examination had been performed was statistically significant greater in 2015. However, the time to complete reports for all Coronial post-mortem examinations in 2015 was not statistically significantly different to 2010. This could be attributed to a higher proportion of post-mortem examinations without internal examination (‘external only’) in 2015. The time to perform a post-mortem examination following the death being reported to a Coroner increased, but the time for Coroners to close a case decreased.

Keywords

Key performance indicators Turnaround time Post-mortem examination Forensic pathology Coronial 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Staff of the National Coronial Information System (NCIS).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None.

Ethical approval

University of Adelaide Human Research Ethics Committee (H-2017-006) and the Justice Human Research Ethics Committee (M0389).

Informed consent

Not applicable.

References

  1. 1.
    Saar E, Bugeja L, Ranson DL. National Coronial Information System: Epidemiology and the Coroner in Australia. Acad For Path. 2017;7:582–90.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council. Subcommittee on Autopsy Practice, Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council and South Australia. Department of Human Services. The national code of ethical autopsy practice. Department of Human Services. Adelaide: AHMAC Secretariat; 2002.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Eckert WG. The history of the forensic applications of radiology. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1984;5:53–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nolte KB, Mlady G, Zumwalt RE, Cushnyr B, Paul ID, Wiest PW. Postmortem x-ray computer tomography (CT) and forensic autopsy: a review of the utility, the challenges and the future implications. Acad For Path. 2011;1:40–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    NCIS Operational statistics. http://www.ncis.org.au/about-the-data/operational-statistics/. Accessed December 2017.
  6. 6.
    Phillips B, Little D, McDougall J, Langlois NEI. The Coronial system and determining manner of death in Australia - an overview. Acad For Path. 2015;5:436–42.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hanzlick R, Hunsaker JC, Davis GJ. A guide for manner of death classification. 1st ed. Atlanta: National Association of Medical Examiners; 2002.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mitchell R, Charlwood C, Thomas SD, Bellis M, Langlois NEI. An audit of the contribution to post-mortem examination diagnosis of individual analyte results obtained from biochemical analysis of the vitreous. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2013;9:515–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Langlois NEI. The use of histology in 638 coronial post-mortem examinations of adults: an audit. Med Sci Law. 2006;46:310–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Langlois NEI, Ellis PS, Little D, Hulewicz B. Toxicologic analysis in cases of sudden possible sudden infant death syndrome. A worthwhile exercise? Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2002;23:162–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Langlois NEI, Gilbert JD, Heath KJ, Winskog C, Kostakis C. An audit of the toxicology findings in 555 medico-legal autopsies finds manner of death changed in 5 cases. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2013;9:44–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Haden-Pinneri K, Weeden VW. Organ and tissue retention. Acad For Path. 2013;3:294–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Langlois NEI, Scott G, Koszyca B, Blumbergs P. Contribution of neuropathological examination of the retained brain to Coronial post-mortem examination cases: an audit. Pathology. 2016;48:96–8.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Thali MJ, Jackowski C, Osterhelweg L, Ross SG, Dirnhofer R. VIRTOPSY –The Swiss virtual autopsy approach. Legal Med. 2007;9:100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Jeffery AJ. The role of computed tomography in adult post-mortem examinations: an overview. Diagn Histopathol. 2010;16:546–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Thali MJ, Schweitzer W, Yen K, Vock P, Ozdoba C, et al. New horizons in forensic radiology. The 60-second “digital autopsy – full-body examination of a gunshot victim by multislice computed tomography. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2003;24:22–7.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Iwase H, Yajima D, Hayakawa M, Yamamoto S, Motani H, Sakuma A, et al. Evaluation of computed tomography as a screening test for death inquest. J Forensic Sci. 2010;55:1509–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bedford PJ, Routine CT. Scan combined with preliminary examination as a new method in determining the need for autopsy. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2012;8:390–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ranson D. The role of post-mortem imaging in preliminary examinations under the coroners act 2008 (Vic): a forensic pathologist’s perspective. J Leg Med. 2014;21:774–9.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wichmann D, Obbelode F, Vogel H, Hoepker WW, Nierhaus A, Braune S, et al. Virtual autopsy as an alternative to traditional medical autopsy in the intensive care unit. A prospective cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2012;156:123–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Barnes M, Carpenter BJ. Reliance on internal autopsies in coronial investigations : a review of the issues. J Law Med. 2011;19:88–100.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    New South Wales Coroners Act 2009. Sydney: New South Wales Government; 2012. https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/inforce/b864672a-d308-c9d5-ba2a-8ed827ad721c/2009-41.pdf. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  23. 23.
    Coroners act 2008. Melbourne: Parliament of Victoria; 2008 [amended 2017 Jul 1]. http://www8.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/ca2008120.pdf. Accessed 6 Oct 2017.
  24. 24.
    Carpenter B, Tait G, Barnes M, Adkins G, Naylor C, Begum N. Increasing the information available to coroners: the effect on autopsy decision-making. Med Sci Law. 2009;49:101–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Pounder D, Jones M, Peschel H. How can we reduce the number of coroner autopsies? Lessons from Scotland and the Dundee initiative. J R Soc Med. 2011;104:19–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Daly B, Andrews S, O’Donnell C. The current and potential future role of postmortem computed tomography in medicolegal death investigation. Acad For Path. 2015;5:590–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    My Health Record. https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/. Accessed June 2018.
  28. 28.
    Tormos LM, Schandi CA, Batalis NI, Presnell SE. Five-day turnaround time for hospital medical autopsies: a five-year experience. Acad For Path. 2015;5:233–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Byard RW. Issues with suicide databases in forensic research. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2017;13:401–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil E. I. Langlois
    • 1
    • 2
  • Claire J. Sully
    • 1
  • Suzanne Edwards
    • 3
  1. 1.Forensic Science SAAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.University of Adelaide, School of MedicineAdelaide Health & Medical Sciences (AHMS)North TerraceAustralia
  3. 3.University of Adelaide, Adelaide Health Technology Assessment / School of Public HealthAdelaide Health & Medical Sciences (AHMS)North TerraceAustralia

Personalised recommendations