When coroners and medical examiners make mistakes

English: Bodies of Hubbard (left), Coy (center...

Coroners Don’t Need Degrees To Determine Death, adapted from an article  written by Sandra Bartlett, for NPR

Dr. Marcella,  former chief medical examiner in Virginia, is a member of the National Academies of Science panel that issued a report recommending an overhaul of the country’s death investigation systems. (emphasis added)

Dr. Fierro wrote an extensive report, A Need For Trained Practitioners that was published by NPR.  In her narrative Dr. Fierro illustrates the discrepancies in autopsy reports.

“Most errors are buried,” she says. “If a death isn’t recognized as being suspicious or is suspicious, say, for violence and it’s released as natural death, [then] it’s buried or cremated,
whatever the family wishes, never to rise again.”

Fierro sat on the blue ribbon panel when the National Academy of Sciences took a look at the death investigation system. The panel described coroners as the weak link.

“On their best day, if they do not have the training, the skills, the infrastructure, the facility, the access to forensic science, they can’t do a good job. It’s a question of competency. How can you train someone who is not a physician?”

Registered nurse, Amanda Powell worked many years in one of the nations busiest emergency rooms.  Powell commented on the lack of qualification in the loosely organized and regulated death investigation industry where coroners are not required to have any degree in any subject matter.

“A medical degree isn’t absorbed through osmoses”, Ms. Powell stated, “it required years of study at a medical school, internship and work”.

Having spent years as an emergency room nurse, Ms. Powell said she has seen the good, the bad and the horrible, but nothing prepared her for the shock of learning there were states that do not require their coroner or medical examiner to be board certified medical doctors, pathologists and/or toxicologists. That these unqualified personnel are allowed to testify in court in homicide cases, declare manner and cause of death “two definitely different things”, according to Powell.

Then, there is the dilemma of diploma mills. For a small fee and sitting for a test, anyone who has a “currently valid, full and unrestricted license to practice medicine or osteopathy” can become ‘board certified’ in one or several fields.  Such ‘boards’ offer board certification  a variety of medical fields.  These organizations do not require the applicant graduate from an approved medical school and have a diploma certifying additional training in their elected “expert field”.

“Until we see a complete overhaul of our country’s coroner system, thousands more innocent people will be wrongfully convicted for serious violent crimes. This will certainly weigh heavily in the debate over both the criminal DNA database and the abolition of the death penalty.”

From: Murder Trials May Be Corrupted By Bad Coroner Testimony – On behalf of Richard Arnold of The Law Offices of Richard P. Arnold posted in Violent Crimes on Thursday, February 3, 2011.

21 responses to this post.

  1. I believe that the Southwest Inst of Forensic Science/Dallas, made an error in my son’s cause of death.
    His ruling seems to be “The Gospel” and I don’t know how to amend this.



    • Good luck, I have been trying to have my son’s case re-opened for 7 years. Coroner’s/medical examiners answer to NO ONE other then themselves, there is no penalty when they make mistakes – even the ones that send innocents to jail or death and guilty go free to do the crime again and again.

      Would like more details – if you care to send to me.



  2. […] When coroners and medical examiners make mistakes (justiceforraymond.wordpress.com) […]



  3. […] When coroners and medical examiners make mistakes (justiceforraymond.wordpress.com) […]



  4. […] When coroners and medical examiners make mistakes (justiceforraymond.wordpress.com) […]



  5. Reblogged this on myownheart.me.



  6. Such as the Vetrenarian that performed my murdered daughters autopsy



    • I thought of that one as I wrote my comments. with your permission I would like to post Klysta’s story on Denied-Justice.

      God bless you and as I live and breathe there will be a solution to these corrupt politicians



      • thank you for reposting. The more exposure of these criminals, the better for our cause.



      • Yep you can post anything about my daughter except if you have them the autopsy photos those I need kept private, but thank you so much for all you have done and yes please maybe her story will help someone, somewhere. God bless you have a wonderful holiday weekend!



  7. Posted by freethewronged on May 24, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Reblogged this on Upside Down.



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