Types Of Death That Are Investigated By The County Coroner Or Medical Examiners Office:
The following types of death must be investigated by the Coroner or Medical Examiners Office regardless of the time period involved from the incident to the time of death if the person did not regain their health to a status equal to or better than their health at the time of the incident:
- Accidental Deaths.
- Falls, including hip fractures or other injury.
- Any blunt force or mechanical injury.
- Cuttings and stabbings.
- Firearm injuries.
- Asphyxiation by gagging or foreign substance, including food, in the airway; compression of the airway or chest, by hand, material or ligature; drowning; hanging; cyanide; exclusion of oxygen; carbon monoxide; and/or other gases causing suffocation.
- Vehicular accidents including auto, bus, train, motorcycle, bicycle, watercraft, snowmobile, or aircraft, including driver, passenger, or related non-passenger, such as being struck by parts flying or thrown from a vehicle.
- Weather related death including lightning, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, or tornado.
- Drug overdose from medication, chemical, or poison ingestion, whether it is actual or suspected. This includes any medical substance, narcotic, or alcoholic beverage, whether sudden, short, or long term survival has occurred.
- Burns from fire, liquid, chemical, radiation or electricity.
- Deaths from electrocution.
- Stillborn or newborn infant death where there is a recent or past traumatic event involving the mother, such as vehicular accident, homicide, suicide attempt, or drug ingestion that may have precipitated delivery or had a detrimental effect to the newborn.
- Homicidal Deaths (By any means, suspected or known)
- Suicidal Deaths (By any means, suspected or known)
- Sudden Deaths.
- Deaths during or after an unexplained, acute, rapidly fatal illness.
- Apparent instantaneous death without obvious natural cause, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (S.I.D.S. or Crib Death) of infants.
- Where the attending physician has no reasonable explanation or opinion of death.
- Cases D.O.A. or occurring within 24 hours of entry to a hospital. (Investigation may reveal that a physician who has treated the deceased is available and legally authorized to sign the death certificate. This will be decided on an individual case basis.)
- Deaths under unknown circumstances, whenever there are no witnesses, or where little or no information can be found concerning the deceased.
- Occupational Deaths,
- Instances in which the environment of present or past employment may have caused or contributed to death by trauma or disease. Deaths in this classification include caisson disease (bends), industrial infections, pneumoconiosis, present or past exposure to toxic waste or product (including nuclear products, asbestos, or coal dust), fractures, burns, or any other injury received during employment or as a result of past employment, which may have contributed to death.
- Death occurring while in any jail, confinement or custody.
- Death occurring while under the influence of anesthesia, during anesthetic induction, during the post-anesthetic period without the patient regaining consciousness, and including death following long term survival if the original incident is thought to be related to the surgical procedure and /or anesthetic agent.
- Death during or following any diagnostic or therapeutic procedure whether medical or surgical, regardless of the location, circumstances, or survival time if death is thought to be directly related to the procedure or complications resulting from said procedure, regardless of length of time.
- Death due to the administration of a drug, serum, vaccine, or any other substance for any diagnostic, therapeutic, or immunological purpose.
- Medical malpractice.
- Any death involving allegations of suspicious medical malpractice or possibly poor medical/surgical care.
- Any maternal or infant death where there is a suspicion of illegal interference by unethical or unqualified persons or self induction.
- “Delayed death” is an unusual type of case where the immediate cause of death may actually be from natural disease. However, injury may have occurred days, weeks, months or even years before death, and is responsible for initiating the sequence of medical conditions or events leading to death. This would be considered a coroner’s case and is therefore reportable. The most common examples of this type of case are past traffic and industrial accidents with debilitating injury and long term care in a nursing home, and hip fractures of the elderly where there is a downward course of condition after the injury.
Any death where there is a doubt, question or suspicion.
Not all reported cases fall into the above categories. After the investigation is completed, many will be returned to the jurisdiction or institution where the death certificate will be signed by the attending physician as a natural death.
- Any unattended death at home or in a public or outdoor space.