Volume 40, Issue 1 (January 1995)
Medical Examiner/Death Investigator Training Requirements in State Medical Examiner Systems
Comprehensive and properly performed investigation of suspicious, unusual, unnatural, and various natural deaths is necessary to maintain the health, safety, and well-being of society as a whole. Adequate investigation requires the combined efforts and cooperation of law-enforcement and other public-service agencies, medical professionals, and those within the forensic community. As such, the “death investigator” plays a crucial role in the investigation process. These front-line investigators, whether they be coroners, medical examiners, physicians, other medical professionals, or lay-people, are required to make important decisions which have far-reaching consequences on how death investigation cases proceed. Death investigation practices vary greatly among medico-legal jurisdictions. A recent publication has categorized state death investigation systems by type of system. In an attempt to better delineate death investigation practices with specific regard to investigators' training and continuing education requirements, we surveyed the 20 systems categorized as state medical examiner systems and the five states with combined state medical examiner and county coroner/medical examiner systems. We present our findings and make recommendations which address the attributes and deficiencies of current death investigation practices.