Medical examiner officers – Further training and induction

The e-learning and face to face training are only the start of your training as a MEO. You will learn new skills and information every day whilst undertaking the role through case discussions and interactions with colleagues, service users and the bereaved. There is a vast amount of resources available to develop your learning further and an individual CPD plan to identify your personal learning requirements. 

Local induction

A great deal of the local knowledge you will require to work effectively as a MEO within the current death certification system will come from other departments and groups within health care providers. It is advised that, in conjunction with your lead Medical Examiner (ME), you devise a local induction to assist you to develop this key knowledge and understanding.

An example induction programme is shown below, but this should be personalised for each individual MEO depending on their current level of knowledge and skills. The order, content and time spent in each area should be designed to fit with the needs of each individual MEO and the needs of the service. The areas detailed are not exhaustive and further areas may be added depending on service requirements and specialist services in your area – additional training suggestions given in Part 3 of the induction. The induction is not mandatory, but it is advisable to develop some understanding of how the current system of death certification and the medical examiner services works in individual areas.

Part 1 – Others involved in death certification

Review of MEO / ME Work at a National Level

  • Review of National system and what is required
  • Discussion with ME or other MEOs
  • Review of office Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and establish or understand the working process.

Visit to the coroner’s office

  • Understanding the role of the coroner’s officer and current working practices
  • Understanding the role of the coroner and the office process
  • Understanding inquest process.

Visit to Bereavement

  • Understanding the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) and Creation form completion
  • Understanding the referral to the coroner process
  • Shadowing of a Bereavement Service Officer: include interaction with the family.

Visit to the mortuary

  • Understanding the mortuary – rules and regulations of storage and post mortem.

Visit to the Registrar

  • Review of the Registrars’ statutory duty to report to the coroner,
  • Understanding of Registrar Office guidance for registration
  • Observe process of registering a death

Part 2 – Medical Examiner office process

Understanding of the ME Office process

  • Start small – do a few cases with the ME
  • Develop or understand office process
  • Develop links with coroner’s officers, bereavement officers, Anatomical Pathology Technicians, Registrars  and others.
  • Case discussion with MEs – discuss issues, questions, and outcomes
  • Expand to include all three aspects of scrutiny
  • Include cases with form A returns
  • Discussion with families about care
  • Contact families before Bereavement Services Office (BSO) appointment to discuss cause of death and review any concerns – this is dependent on ME availability.

Part 3 - Additional visits / experiences

Additional visits as and when time available

Visit to clinical areas

  • Orthogeriatric ward round – understanding the ward environment and surgical interventions
  • Respiratory ward round – understanding conditions and medical interventions
  • Day on Palliative care – understand challenges of Care at the End of Life
  • Shadow a nurse in the acute admissions or Accident and Emergency department
  • Other specialist areas e.g. Paediatrics, cardiothoracic surgery.

Visit to areas linked with disposal of a body

  • Visit to a funeral directors to understand their role in assisting the bereaved
  • Visit to a crematorium to understand the process of cremation forms and regulations.

Faith Groups

Meet with faith leaders or chaplaincy services to understand the requirements of faith groups.

Organ donation

Visit Intensive Care / Critical Care Unit (ITU) and meet with doctors and specialist nurses for organ donation to understand the donation process.

These are examples and are not a mandatory part of induction, they may be used to look at further CPD and learning.

Further external learning

There are many resources available to assist MEOs and provide information and ideas for good practice and CPD.  Below are a few examples that may be helpful to you as you start to develop the MEO role, but they are by no means a definitive list.  As you become more experienced in the role, you will be able to identify areas of learning that are unique to you and structure your own CPD and personal learning objectives.

The eLearning for healthcare site also has other courses that may be valuable for MEOs, you can enrol on any course, but the following list may be used as a good base to start:

  • DOLS: Deprivation of liberty
  • e-ELCA: End of life care
  • CCC: Cancer in the community
  • CWE: Communicating with empathy
  • COM: Compassion in practice
  • MLT: Medico legal training
  • PFH: Preventing falls in hospital
  • RTR: Pressure ulcer prevention
  • SEP: Sepsis
  • TIA: Transient ischaemic attack
  • VTE: Venous thromboembolism

External training and conferences

Higher education courses

There are also a variety of post graduate distance based learning courses available – two examples are listed below (not specifically endorsed by the College.)