State Pathologist Building

Office of the State Pathologist (OSP), Griffith Avenue, Whitehall, Dublin 9, D09 RDT8.

Email: osp@statepathology.gov.ie

Telephone: +353 1 6331571

Office hours: 9.00am – 5.00pm

Out of hours: contact the pathologist on call. This information is available to all Coroners and Garda Communications Division.

 

 

Latest Updates

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Charlie Flanagan and the Acting Chief State Pathologist, Dr. Linda Mulligan launched the 2018 Annual Report of the Office of the State Pathologist and the Royal College of Physicians (RCPI) review of the Office of the State Pathologist on Thursday 19 September 2019 in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

 

Office of the State Pathologist Annual Report 2018

The Annual Report is the second formal Annual Report of the Office. It sets out the complex work undertaken by the forensic pathologists, and the challenges and opportunities facing the OSP in the years ahead.

The OSP provides a national, year round, forensic pathology service. Its role is to provide independent expert advice on matters relating to forensic pathology and perform post mortem examinations in cases where foul play is suspected. Forensic pathologists provide expert opinion at the inquest and court proceedings arising out of a Garda investigation. This is a demanding brief and is ably delivered by a small, dedicated team.  The OSP conducted 286 cases last year, a number that has slowly risen over the last few years. While 196 cases - roughly two thirds - were State forensic cases, 69 cases were non-forensic cases carried out by the Office.

A copy of the Annual Report is available here: Office of the State Pathologist Annual Report 2018

 

RCPI Review of the Office of the State Pathologist

In July 2018, in anticipation of the retirements of Professor Cassidy and Dr. Curtis, the Department of Justice and Equality commissioned the Royal College of Physicians (RCPI) to conduct a review of the Office of the State Pathologist.  The aim of the review was to identify how the Office could best maintain and develop the high standard of services it has always provided, both now and into the future.


At the launch the Minister thanked the RCPI and members of the review steering group for all their hard work in creating this comprehensive review, In particular, Dr. Marie Staunton, clinical lead on the review, and Máiread Heffron, the project lead.


The review makes a number of recommendations regarding the future operation of the OSP under a number of themes:

  • recruitment,
  • succession planning,
  • governance and operational structure,
  • research and training,
  • access to specialist expertise, and
  • mortuary facilities.

A copy of the review is available here: Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Review of the Office of the State Pathologist

 

Click here for details of the  State Pathology Team 

Forensic Pathology

The Office of the State Pathologist is an agency under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Equality. The Office provides a national, year round, forensic pathology service in Ireland. There is always a forensic pathologist on duty, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. An on-call rota is provided to An Garda Síochána and to all Coroners on a continual basis.

Forensic pathology is the discipline of medicine that deals with the determination of the cause of death for legal purposes.  Forensic pathologists are medical doctors who are trained in anatomical pathology and the forensic examination and interpretation of injuries at post mortem examination. 

The main activity of the Office is the performance of post mortem examinations in cases of sudden, unexplained death where a criminal or suspicious element is present (referred to as “State” cases).  In approximately 20% of cases, this will involve a visit to the scene of death.  The pathologists deal with homicides as well as a wide range of natural and unnatural -deaths (e.g. road traffic accidents, other accidents, drug-related and prison deaths).

The Office also deals with a significant number of other cases. These include skeletonised remains, which may require the expertise of a forensic anthropologist; cold case reviews; referred cases – these cases are referred for a further professional opinion and are usually from outside the Irish jurisdiction (e.g. Northern Ireland, U.K.).

 

Statistics

 

State cases

Coroner’s cases/ non-forensic cases

Skeletal Remains

Referred Cases

2016

152

55

15

8

2017

167

58

19

17

2018

196

62

17

11

 

A significant proportion of the work involves out-of-office activities. 

These include:

 

OSP – Laboratory and Secretarial support

The pathologists based in the OSP are provided with office support from four clerical staff.

All histological material from state forensic cases is processed onsite at the new Histopathology Laboratory in the Whitehall building.  There is currently one full-time senior laboratory analyst based in the OSP.

Samples taken for toxicology are transported from the location of the post mortem examination to the State Laboratory in Backweston, Co Kildare.  The results of toxicological analysis are usually available after approximately 12 weeks.

 

Other Specialist Involvement

On a case by case basis, and following discussion with the respective coroner, the forensic pathologists may deem it necessary for another forensic specialist to be involved in the investigation of a suspicious death. 

The specialist areas most frequently required are:

 

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