Responding to the initiative of coroners in Australia, the National Injury Surveillance Unit agreed to undertake a feasibility study for a national coronial information system. This paper contains the results of this investigation.

Major findings

  • Current coronial information systems are not able to provide the quality of information or efficient access to information which is required by both the coroners and major users of coronial data. They are mainly paper-based, have few systematic ways of indexing data and vary in terms of detail and quality of information
  • There is a commitment by coroners to the development of a better information system and the sharing of this information with appropriate, interested parties.
  • Development is limited by lack of resources, lack of familiarity with and access to modem computer technology in many jurisdictions, and a fragmented approach by the many users of information.
  • There is a need to develop a systematic way of investigating and recording information about deaths, taking into account the needs of major users of information, and using systematic coding procedures.
  • Major users expend a great deal of effort and large amounts of money accessing coronial data. Much of this is due to the way in which records are stored and a lack of appropriate indexing systems. Even where information from coroners is coded by external agencies, the resulting indexing systems are not provided to the coroner for use in the performance of coronial duties.
  • Reallocation of these resources to an efficient computerised system would allow ongoing operation of the system with increased utility of coronial information to all users.
  • The estimated maximum cost of establishing the system is approximately $270,000. Annual running costs would be around $210,000. Use and upgrading of existing facilities should reduce these costs.
  • A national coronial information system will contribute significantly to planning the prevention of death and injury. This has the potential to produce major reductions in the costs of injury to Australian society.