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Part 2 cremation forms caution

A partner who has been retired for 13 years wishes to know if he should continue to act as a Part 2 signatory for cremation forms. He is concerned as he is a 'retired' member of his medical defence organisation and they only cover him for action taken in an emergency. What is your view?

The LMC knows of no legal reason why the retired doctor may not continue to sign the Part 2, Form C or confirmatory certificate.

The fact that he will not be insured by his defence organisation does, however, place him at some degree of risk for which he would have no insurance cover, unless he can negotiate a special arrangement.

In an increasingly litigious world it is quite possible that the opinion of the doctor who signed the Part 2 form could be called into question by the family or friends of the deceased person or by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The whole process of certification was called into question by the Harold Shipman case. The Shipman Inquiry was critical of six of the 10 doctors who signed Form C for Shipman's patients on the basis that they merely accepted and endorsed the view of the Form B doctor. The report found that their performance was 'mitigated... by the generally low standard of Form C completion prevailing throughout the profession'!

Dr Christine Dewbury, Wessex LMCs

Neither Pulse nor Wessex LMCs can accept any legal liability in respect of the answers given. Readers should seek independent advice before acting on the information concerned.

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