Report a Death
When and How to Report a Death
There are specific responsibilities of various agencies and individuals in regards to reporting a death to the Medical Examiner.
First of all, if you are a citizen who witnesses a death or discovers a death, please do not notify the Medical Examiner’s Office directly. Contact your local law enforcement immediately. Upon initiating their investigation, law enforcement personnel will then notify this office in regard to the death if it is necessary.
Law Enforcement and Hospital Personnel
Prior to contacting the Medical Examiner’s Office to report a death, first make sure
A) It meets the necessary criteria to become a Medical Examiner’s case,
B) You have as much information (i.e. name, date of birth, time of death, last seen alive, past medical history, circumstances leading up to the death, etc.) available as possible, and
C) All attempts have been made to contact the decedent’s primary care physician.
Please note: The refusal of a primary care physician does not necessarily make the case an “unattended” death. In many cases, physicians do not have the legal authority to refuse to sign a death certificate. However, the Medical Examiner investigator can, in some cases, assist with instructing the primary care physician on this point.
Once it has been determined that the death meets the criteria of a Medical Examiner case, the following procedure should be performed:
Remember, it is the Medical Examiner’s Investigator that is responsible for determining whether a death falls under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner’s Office. He / she will make that determination based on the information you provide regarding the circumstances surrounding the death, so please be sure to have as much information as possible prior to contacting the office.