One of the most daunting things that nurses can be involved in is preparing a report for the coroner and being called to give evidence at an inquest. This arises when one of HM Coroners investigates the death of a patient. Any nurse can be called to give evidence about the care that was given either by them or their colleagues, and under the Code we have a duty to comply with this.1
The following article examines the role of coroners, why an inquest may be held, preparing a report for the coroner and giving evidence at an inquest.
A request for a nurse to become involved in an investigation will usually come through the employer. Often the letter will state that the coroner has reviewed the case and will require nursing evidence.
Before a formal inquest takes place a number of pre-inquest reviews can be held. These are hearings in which the coroner will decide on legal and procedural matters. The initial letter will document why there will be an inquest and an indication of dates to when the inquest might be. It is advised not to miss these if it can be helped.
In our experience, the coroner and their officers are helpful and approachable when a healthcare practitioner contacts them for advice and guidance.