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Death certification: do consultant pathologists do it better?
  1. Dinesh Fernando1,
  2. Jon D Oxley2,
  3. John Nottingham1
  1. 1Department of Histopathology, Northampton General Hospital, Northampton, UK
  2. 2Department of Cellular Pathology, North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jon D Oxley, Consultant in Cellular Pathology, Department of Cellular Pathology, North Bristol NHS Trust, Southmead Hospital, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol BS10 5NB, UK; jon.oxley{at}


The completion of the medical certificate of cause of death is required for registration of a death, and this data helps plan healthcare services for the country. Many audits have shown them to be inaccurately completed by junior doctors, but the authors examined whether advice from consultant pathologists could improve this. Using the Office for National Statistics guidelines, the authors found that only 56% of the certificates were appropriately completed. The planned introduction of medical examiners to England and Wales is aimed at improving this situation, but consultant pathologists will still issue causes of death following postmortems, and it would seem prudent to train pathologists as well.

  • Death certificate
  • audit
  • melanocytic lesions
  • prostate
  • dermatopathology

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.