Our thanks to any Coroners who are visiting this website. Huge thanks to Peter Dean, President of the Coroners Society who so kindly invited me to the conference (September 2014) and allowed me a table and to give out our press packs and a hand-out especially for Coroners and a quiz on CO. I was also allowed to address the conference for about five minutes. Thanks to all the Coroners who made me feel very welcome. We write to Coroners in order to ask them to check every death and we also write once a year to send Coroners our latest statistic and to update them on any new information.
Perhaps the most vital message we’d like to give Coroners is to ask if they could test for Carbon Monoxide (CO) whenever possible. We have asked several pathology labs about CO testing and they have indicated that as long as a COHb test was ordered at the same time as other toxicology, it would not incur any extra cost. We would dearly love for more Post Mortems to therefore include CO testing routinely. In our considerable experience of deaths it is not unusual for CO to be ignored as a cause of death even when it has subsequently been proved to have been the cause of death e.g. see http://www.co-gassafety.co.uk/information/press-pack-2018/ case study about the death of Edna Lawrence page 7 & Katie Overton pages 8-9. This has repercussions not just with regard to accuracy of inquest verdicts, but more importantly for the safety of the rest of the family.
INFORMATION FOR CORONERS
CO-Gas Safety thanks all the Coroners it has corresponded with over the years. Our data and statistics would be nothing, without all the work done by you and your officers. We would very much like you to pass on our details to any family who has lost a loved one to carbon monoxide poisoning or other fuel related death (Stephanie Trotter OBE at Tel. 07803 088688 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
We try to offer anyone who contacts us free, confidential help and advice. However, please warn your families that we are a very small charity and we may only be able to give them information and perhaps pass them on to another organisation, if there is one. Alternatively we can pass families on to solicitors who are experienced in inquests. Please note the myth of the cherry red colour at death. The Leighton brothers both died together of CO – one was cherry red, the other was incredibly pale. This has been explained to me by medics as ‘pooling’ and is therefore dependent on how the body is lying at and after death.
If you as a Coroner, download our form (see below) WELL BEFORE the inquest, we hope that will give you a very good guide towards seeking the right information about the tragedy. Our form can also now be filled in online. The difficulty is that obviously often the only person who could answer many of the obvious questions, is the deceased. However, we ask you on behalf of the many families we have tried to help, to provide as many documents as you can before the inquest, especially to those families asking for these. Indeed we often find that it is not until the families see the documents that they realise they may need advice or further documents. In our experience when a family is represented by a lawyer, such documents are provided. However, when the family lacks such legal help, such documents are often not provided before the inquest, despite several requests. We do not think this unfair situation aids either families or the interests of justice. We welcome your views on this topic. Please email Stephanie Trotter at email@example.com
We would also like to ask you to investigate whether a CO detector or alarm was present in the property where the death from CO took place. If it was an alarm, what sort of alarm? Was it to EN50291 or not? If not to EN 5029, what was it? How old was it? Was it a spot detector which is not designed to make a noise? Was it a battery powered alarm or mains powered? Has it been preserved so that it could be tested to see if it still works or not? We could help with this. We are particularly interested in helping with regard to the death of a young child or baby. We are also interested in any unusual cases (e.g. death caused by a defect in an appliance or caused by misuse of an appliance or in a tent or some other more unusual setting). We are also interested in helping any family where there is a death which is apparently not caused by carbon monoxide but where the toxins (such as mercury, manganese, arsenic, benzene etc. ) in the other products of combustion could have caused or contributed to what is otherwise likely to be an unexplained death. Please see under ‘*Other Toxins’ on the home page.
We are extremely concerned that deaths are being caused by or contributed to by these other toxins. Please note that we have offered what help we can to a mother of a three year old found dead in a room with a gas appliance with a blocked flue. The house was filled with gas appliances and the houses on each side of this house were full of gas appliances. The child apparently had no CO but 15 times the higher levels of manganese, (and also, unknown levels of arsenic, barium and nickel). The inquest found the death was caused by natural causes and the higher levels of manganese were apparently the result of pooling of the blood after death. However, there was no research quoted for pooling other than research on drugs and this case does give us great concern. We are not surprised because during all the years since 1995 that we have been helping people, we have come to the conclusion that CO is not the whole story. We have also come across many cases of people saying they were made ill from leaks of unburned natural gas.
Please fill in the forms and return them to us.
For your information you might find the Guide and Charter document helpful if you do not already know about it. The combined Guide and Charter document is available on the Justice website at http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/burials-and-coroners/coroners.htm and on the Direct Gov website at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Death/WhatToDoAfterADeath/DG_066713