State Pathologist Building

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

Phone: +353 1 6331571    Email:



Click here for details of the  State Pathology Team 


Forensic pathology

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, histopathology and the interpretation of injuries.  The Office of the State Pathologist (OSP) provides a national forensic pathology service in Ireland.

The main activity of the OSP is the performance of post mortem examinations in cases of sudden, unexplained death where a criminal or suspicious element is present.  In approximately 25% of cases, this will also involve a visit to the scene of death.  The pathologists deal with approximately 50 – 60 homicides per year as well as a wide range of natural and unnatural -deaths (e.g. road traffic accidents, other accidents, drug-related deaths).

The OSP also deals with a significant number of skeletonised remains, cold case reviews and referred cases for professional opinion.  Referred cases are usually from outside the Irish jurisdiction (Northern Ireland, U.K.).



Post mortem examinations

Skeletal Remains

Referred Cases


247:   69   Natural Deaths

         178  Suspicious Deaths*




207:   55   Natural Deaths

         152  Suspicious Deaths




225:    58  Natural Deaths

          167 Suspicous Deaths



*Suspicious deaths include homicides.


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

These include

e.g. The National Emergency Framework, The National Drug-Related Death Index, Government bodies and commissions. 

An important part of the service provided by the OSP involves teaching of medical students at both undergraduate and post-graduate level.  The OSP is closely affiliated with the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, but also provides lectures for Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Galway University and Cork University.  Medical students and qualified doctors often spend time attached to our department as part of their required electives.


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 Senior Scientist based full-time in the OSP.

Samples taken for toxicology are transported from the location of the post mortem examination to the State Laboratory in Backweston.  They are analysed here.  The results of toxicological analysis are usually available after 8 – 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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