Coroner qualifications; virtually non-existent in most jurisdictions

English: Carville, LA December 1, 2005 - Dr. L...

English: Carville, LA December 1, 2005 – Dr. Louis Cataldie, the Louisiana State Medical Examiner, described the use of dental records in the identification of disinterred bodies during a press tour of the new DMORT facility. The storm surges from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita disinterred approximately 1,300 bodies. Photo by Greg Henshall / FEMA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Qualifications for coroner or deputy coroner vary from district to district and state to state.

A recent inquiry for the published qualifications for coroner from a Pennsylvania county office the voice that answered the telephone responded with a hearty laugh, then quickly explained that there were no qualifications; anyone over 21 years of age with a high school diploma can run for the political office and “if they are popular enough, they can get elected”, the unidentified informant clarified.

When news print headline stories and evening news broadcast outrageous cases of coroner misconduct, misdiagnosis and/or wrong diagnoses, it is time for a serious look at qualifications.

FRONTLINE and NPR looks at the nation’s 2,300 coroner and medical examiner offices and finds a troubled system that literally buries its mistakes.”  This is the lead comment from their broadcast “Post Mortem”.

PBS “FRONTLINE” and NPR spent a year looking at the nation’s 2,300 coroner and medical examiner offices and found “a deeply dysfunctional system that quite literally buries its mistakes.”

The investigative report by A.C. Thompson, Mosi Secret, Lowell Bergman and Sandra Bartlett contains pages of concerns for the national coroner and medical examiner systems.

Blunders by doctors in America’s morgues have put innocent people in prison cells, allowed the guilty to go free, and left some cases so muddled that prosecutors could do nothing.

In Mississippi, a physician’s errors in two autopsies helped convict a pair of innocent men, sending them to prison for more than a decade.

The Massachusetts medical examiner’s office has cremated a corpse before police could determine if the person had been murdered; misplaced bones; and lost track of at least five bodies.

Late last year, a doctor in a suburb of Detroit autopsied the body of a bank executive pulled from a lake — and managed to miss the bullet hole in his neck and the bullet lodged in his jaw.

But they are not alone in concern for the lack of oversight of coroner and medical examiner systems.

A Canadian probe into a case of a two-year old accidental death that was classified as a homicide found the doctor, Dr. Michael Belensky, had a varied educational past that led from Soviet Russia where he received his medical degree to several stops in the United States before arriving in Canada.

The misdiagnosis of the two-year old initiated an investigation into other cases where Dr. Belensky was involved, including some in US.

Their investigation also discovered Dr. Belensky did not pass the test to certify as a certified forensic pathologist.

The family of the two-year old Canadian is suing the doctor for $2 million due to the pain and suffering by the sibling and parents of the unnamed two-year old.

9 responses to this post.

  1. […] Coroner qualifications; virtually non-existent in most jurisdictions ( Share this:Email Pin ItDiggPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]



  2. […] Coroner qualifications; virtually non-existent in most jurisdictions ( […]



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  4. […] family’s experience showed how problems with clinical autopsies— and rarely include toxicology tests — can thwart survivors’ ability to determine what […]



  5. Posted by arkansastruthseeker on July 21, 2012 at 9:06 am

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  6. […] Comment « Coroner qualifications; virtually non-existent in most jurisdictions […]



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