a1 Faculty of Public Health & Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of London, London, UK
a2 School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK
Medico-legal death investigation systems have the potential to play an important role in disease surveillance. While these systems are in place to serve a public function, the degree to which they are independent of central government can vary depending on jurisdiction. How these systems use this independence may present problems for public health initiatives, as it allows death investigators to decline to participate in government-led surveillance regardless of how critical the studies may be to public health and safety. A recent illustration of this problem in the UK is examined, as well as general lessons for removing impediments to death investigation systems participating in public health research.
(Accepted November 10 2010)
(Online publication December 15 2010)
c1 Author for correspondence: C. R. McGowan, Faculty of Public Health & Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH, UK. (Email: Catherine.McGowan@lshtm.ac.uk)