Autopsy process

Coronial investigations in Queensland

When a death is reported to the Coroner, the police investigate on behalf of the Coroner.

Usually, an autopsy is required to determine the cause of death or the identity of the deceased.

The police consult with family members about the autopsy and any objections or issues should be raised as quickly as possible. Family members can contact the coronial counsellor assigned to the case to discuss concerns.

More on Coroner’s process (Coroners Court)

Autopsy decisions

The coroner decides what type of autopsy is necessary, depending on the issues surrounding the case. This should be the least intrusive examination that will resolve the issues in doubt.

There are three types of autopsy:

  • external examination of the body (a visual examination that may include X-rays and blood or other fluid samples being taken)
  • partial internal autopsy (particular organs or body parts are examined)
  • full internal autopsy (organs of the chest, abdomen and head are removed and examined).

The coroner must also take into account the cultural and / or spiritual beliefs of the family, and any objections that the family has raised.

The coroner’s order is then given to the pathologists, who carry out the autopsy.

More information on coronial autopsies (Coroners Court)