Death Investigation in the US – Medical Examiner or Coroner?


It is well past time to re-invent the ancient practice of electing unqualified coroners to perform a death investigation in the case of suspicious, unattended death or homicide. Some practicing ‘medical examiners’ have mail order credentials or none at all. Yet, their decision can’t be reversed unless and until they give their permission. Nowhere is there an appointed oversight board that has the right or power to audit the autopsy reports for accuracy.

We have written many articles documenting the misdiagnosis and malpractice of coroners and medical examiners.

An update into Raymond Zachry’s poisoning death in Montgomery County, PA and the altered toxicology reports, plus a video of Ray’s mother and toxicologists go here

Wrongful Convictions Blog

autopsy table

It’s common, in cases which involve a death, for the determination, by autopsy, of manner and cause of that death to result in criminal charges being filed against a suspect.  And in many cases, the results of that autopsy will be the evidence that convicts or acquits that suspect.  Unfortunately, it’s all too common for the results of an autopsy to be unreliable or downright wrong.

A wrong result from an autopsy?  How can this happen?  Accurate determination of manner and cause of death by autopsy requires a medical examiner, or coroner, with a high level of competency and with special training.  Sadly, there are both coroners and forensic pathologists practicing in this country who are unfit for the job.  To understand how this can be, it’s important to understand the distinction between a “medical examiner” and a “coroner.”  Medical examiners are appointed, or hired, by the responsible governmental body…

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