Mesothelioma and the coroner

When a person with mesothelioma dies, the doctor who signs the death certificate must inform the coroner, and an inquest has to take place.

What is a coroner's inquest?

There may come a time when treatments are no longer working for your relative or friend and you have to prepare for their death. When someone dies of mesothelioma, there will need to be an inquest. This is a legal investigation into the circumstances surrounding a person’s death. At such a difficult time, it can be even harder if you did not expect this.

Why is an inquest needed?

An inquest is needed because mesothelioma is an occupational disease. When a person with mesothelioma dies, the doctor who signs the death certificate must inform the coroner (the procurator fiscal in Scotland) who will carry out the inquest. A coroner is a doctor or lawyer who investigates unexpected deaths.

Will the inquest delay a funeral?

The need for an inquest will not usually mean any delay before your relative or friend’s funeral can take place. The coroner will issue a temporary death certificate in most cases. This is because a full certificate cannot be issued until after the inquest is completed. This may take a few months.

Will a post mortem be needed?

The coroner will decide if a post mortem (an examination of the body) is needed to find out whether the death was due to mesothelioma or another cause.

In many situations, a post mortem is not needed if there is enough medical evidence to confirm the person had mesothelioma. This evidence may come from samples (biopsies) that were taken when the person was first diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Existing compensation claims

If your friend or relative was making (or had already made) a compensation claim, the coroner should be told and given the solicitor's details. The solicitor should also be told of the death soon after the person passes away. In most cases, the solicitor will be able to advise and deal with the coroner on behalf of the family.

Need support?

It can be distressing when you have to deal with these issues as well as the possible death of your relative or friend. If you need support, call the Macmillan Support Line for free on 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week 8am - 8pm, to speak to one of our specialist advisors.

We also have information about looking after someone with cancer.