Coronial autopsies for people who die unexpectedly on the Fraser Coast are now performed outside of the region because Maryborough’s pathology department was shut down in December.
Coronial autopsies for people who die unexpectedly on the Fraser Coast are now performed outside of the region because Maryborough’s pathology department was shut down in December.

Autopsies for unexpected deaths to be done elsewhere

CORONIAL autopsies for people who die unexpectedly on the Fraser Coast are now performed outside the region since Maryborough's pathology department was shut down in December.

The man who performed the local autopsies, Eric Donaldson, resigned as a direct result of the conditions after the Maryborough Base Hospital pathology department was closed down.

Dr Donaldson was never replaced and said his retirement meant there were no medically qualified pathologists to perform autopsies from Nambour to Rockhampton.

He said funeral directors were now contracted to transport bodies from the Fraser Coast to Brisbane's John Tonge Centre.

He estimated it could cost up to $1800 for a return trip to Brisbane.

A representative of the Office of the State Coroner said coronial autopsies were now performed out of Rockhampton, Nambour or Brisbane.

"There does not appear to have been any notable impact on coronial costs or reporting times attributable to the fact that autopsies are no longer performed in Maryborough," the representative said.

Dr Donaldson has also spoken out against comments by Maryborough MP Anne Maddern that blood collection services had not been affected by the closure.

Three phlebotomists and three scientists at Maryborough were made redundant when pathology was closed.

In a special report on 500 days of an LNP Government in Wednesday's Chronicle, Mrs Maddern said she did not believe pathology services had suffered as a result of the cuts.

She said it was not possible for the hospital to be running without the appropriate pathology services and the fact they were expanding services was evidence blood collection had not been affected.

Dr Donaldson, who spent more than 30 years as a pathologist, said there was no way blood collection services had not suffered at Maryborough.

He said outpatients at Maryborough were disadvantaged because collections were only done for half a day, five days a week.

Dr Donaldson said patients in the accident and emergency department may end up staying longer in the emergency department if they needed certain specialist blood testing, which was now done from Hervey Bay.

Queensland Health did not respond to questions from the Chronicle before deadline on Thursday.

Coronial autopsies

  • The coroner can request an autopsy in the case of a reportable death
  • Reportable deaths can include cases where a person's identity is unknown, the death was violent, unnatural or suspicious or if the death occurred in custody


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