Medical Examiner Clearing House
Countless numbers of individuals have struggled and continue to struggle to understand the ongoing horrific practices meted out by medical examiner and coroner systems across this country as a result of the loss of a loved one that falls within and under their jurisdiction. Failure to sympathize with the grief, sadness and despair families are faced with is only surpassed by unanswered phone calls, inaccurate information, rudeness, failure to provide information and optional services, and the unauthorized retention of organs for random testing and sale.
- Unqualified coroners determining cause and manner of death
- Medical examiners with no forensic training determining cause and manner of death
- Pending & Amended Death Certificates without notification
- Conflicts of interest between medical examiners, sheriffs, prosecutors, hospitals, counties
- Death certificate cause and manner of death not accurately assessed
- Sub-standard state ordered autopsies on inmates – the norm not the exception
- Arrogance of medical examiners or physicians in response to questions, requests & concerns
- Questions ignored, phone calls not returned
- Medical records altered, missing or not accessed
- Deceased bodies transported without documentation
- Bodies embalmed or cremated without authorization
- Harassment and price gouging by contracted funeral homes
Adequate investigation of death requires the combined efforts and cooperation of law enforcement and other public service agencies, government agencies, medical professionals and those within the forensic community. Cooperation between these entities however, is not automatic. These frontline individuals are required to make important decisions which have far-reaching consequences. Put into the hands of the untrained or unskilled and without any independent oversight is dead wrong.
There are gross deficiencies in the current death investigation system within each state. Death investigation practices vary greatly among medicolegal jurisdictions. There are no mandated standards or protocols that the medical examiner and coroner systems are required to follow, equivocation of terms and titles are utilized consistently to confuse, and training in both areas falls short.
The Institute maintains a proprietary database of problems and issues within medical examiner and coroner offices such as sub-standard autopsies, failing to provide key information to families, failing to return phone calls, respond to written requests or exhibit unprofessional behavior and language toward families.
Additionally, there is very little consistency from one jurisdiction to another when comparing terminology of medical examiner and coroners. In other words, in some states the term “deputy M.E.” is used to describe a board-certified forensic pathologist while in another state that same title can mean a non-pathologist physician death investigator, and yet still, in a different state the same title can describe a non-physician death investigator.
The numerous titles given to medical examiners, coroners and death investigators cause a great deal of confusion only to be surpassed by the fact that 50% or more of the medical examiner and coroner systems require no formal training in death investigation. Your local coroner may very well be the gas station attendant or the waitress in your favorite restaurant. Literally.
In an effort to educate families about the medical examiner and coroner system when forced to deal with these agencies, Fighting for Life, The Tricks and Traps of the Death Investigation System—A Guide for Those Navigating Through Death Within Prisons, Nursing Homes, Hospitals and Jails, lays out the problems and issues that are systemic within the death investigation system and provides key information regarding the ongoing deficiencies within that system. For book order information ... Click Here.
The Institute recommends and refers qualified forensic pathologists to perform first or second autopsies whether death has occurred within a jail or prison system, hospital, assisted living or nursing home residence. The Institute encourages those who have encountered egregious behavior on the part of a medical examiner or coroner’s office, to send us an email describing your experience.