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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


MCQUOID-MASON, D J. What should private-sector doctors do when relatives of deceased patients pressurise them to prevent medicolegal autopsies in cases of unnatural death?. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2019, vol.109, n.10, pp.743-744. ISSN 2078-5135.

This article deals with what doctors in the private sector should do if relatives of deceased patients refuse to consent to medicolegal autopsies and demand that the bodies be handed over to them. The law does not require consent by relatives for medicolegal autopsies, because the State has a compelling interest in ensuring that such deaths are properly investigated. Relatives of patients who have died an unnatural death may be criminally prosecuted if they attempt to obstruct doctors from carrying out their duties under the Inquests Act 58 of 1959 and the regulations regarding the rendering of forensic pathology services.

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