Palliative physicians persuade procurators fiscal

Downs, F M; Giles, G M; Johnson, M J
October 2002
Palliative Medicine;Oct2002, Vol. 16 Issue 6, p532
Academic Journal
Mesothelioma caused by occupational exposure to asbestos is well recognized and sufferers who have been employed in a prescribed occupation can claim compensation. Stringent criteria must be fulfilled in order to establish the link between occupational exposure and mesothelioma, and to this end the procurator fiscal is involved after the patient's death, both to elucidate the individual situation and 'for the common good'. Problems were experienced locally by the use of uniformed police officers, as the appointed Crown agents, as interviewers of recently bereaved relatives, irrespective of the degree of tact and sensitivity shown. The likelihood of an autopsy was also distressing. It is important to recognize the role of the procurator fiscal and to ensure that workers' compensation procedures exist and are followed. However, in order to minimize grief and distress to relatives, discussion took place with the local procurator fiscal. He was appreciative of the issues raised and practice has now changed substantially. In particular, police officers are no longer required to interview relatives either for the purpose of identification or to ascertain the deceased's occupational history. A pro forma has been produced and agreed locally to obviate the need for medical staff to be interviewed by police officers. Following subsequent discussion with the Crown Office our local arrangements have been incorporated in Crown Office guidance for national use.


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