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    Study prompts call for global recommendations on use of autopsies

    By Noreen Bowden | May 6, 2008

    The Irish Independent is reporting that an upcoming study in the Irish Medical Journal will be the first examining the causes of Irish nationals abroad. The study looked at the cases of 20 people who died abroad and were repatriated to Ireland between 1998 and 2004.

    The news report contains the rather sensationalist claim that “many people believed to have died accidentally abroad may actually have been murdered because their cause of death has not been recorded properly.” More than half had no cause of death recorded.

    The State Pathologist, Marie Cassidy, has called for global recommendations on the use of autopsies. The newspaper quotes her as saying:

    “When someone dies abroad, we have no control over what happens and often we just don’t know what we are dealing with. You either do a complete autopsy or you don’t. Coroners in Ireland are now very active in ensuring that repatriated bodies are subject to a full examination, but we are concerned that some homicides may be slipping through the net because of flawed autopsies or none at all. “

    All bodies arriving in Dublin airport are automatically sent to the State Pathologist for examination. Domestic coroners, however, are not required to investigate the deaths of Irish citizens abroad.

    In related news, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has said that the number of Irish travellers dying abroad is increasing.  Sixty people travelling abroad died in the first three months of this year. One-third of these deaths were in Spain, seven in the US, and five in Thailand. There were others in Italy, Ghana, Fiji, Argentina, Laos, China and the Middle East.

    Minister Ahern said drugs and alcohol were a big factor in the deaths. He is predicting that if trends continue, there will be three hundred deaths this year, as opposed to 130 for all of last year.

    Read the full articles:

    Organs taken without consent from Irish who died abroad.

    Minister warns of big rise in holiday deaths.

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