Graphics: How Is Death Investigated In Your State? Did you know a coroner doesn't have to be a doctor to determine the cause of death? Learn more about investigating death in the U.S.

Graphics: How Is Death Investigated In Your State?

Differences Between Coroners And Medical Examiners

To understand death investigation in the U.S., it's important to understand the differences among the three key roles in death investigation: a Coroner, a Medical Examiner and a Forensic Pathologist. Forensic Pathologists can be a coroner, or medical examiner, or are employed by those offices to perform certain functions.

  Coroner Medical Examiner
Required To Be A Physician Usually Not Required Almost Always
Investigates Deaths
If death is sudden, violent, untimely, unexpected or cause of death is unknown
Yes Yes
Performs Autopsies No Yes
Determines Cause of Death
If death is natural, an accident, a homicide, a suicide or undetermined
Yes Yes
Death Certificates
Assigns cause of death
Yes Yes
Appointed Or Elected Either Appointed
Pathologist or Forensic Pathologist* Not Required Almost Always

Death Investigation State By State

Coroners and Medical Examiners system map

Accredited Offices

The following offices have been certified by the National Association of Medical Examiners. Although there is no formal national regulatory standard, NAME has created a set of standards for the purpose of improving the quality of the death investigation in the U.S.

Institution State
Office of the State Medical Examiner - Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Little Rock AR
San Francisco Office of Chief Medical Examiner, San Francisco CA
San Diego County Medical Examiner Office, San Diego, California CA
Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner/Coroner Office, Los Angeles CA
Sacramento County Coroner's Office - Sacramento, CA CA
San Bernadino County Sheriff-Coroner Department, San Bernardino CA
Denver Office of the Medical Examiner, Denver CO
Larimer County Medical Examiners Office, Loveland CO
El Paso County Coroner/Medical Examiner Facility, Colorado Springs CO
Connecticut-Office of Chief medical Examiner, Farmington CT
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Washington, DC DC
Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Wilmington DE
District 5 Medical Examiner's Office, Leesburg FL
District 11 Medical Examiner Office, Miami-Dade FL
District Six Medical Examiner Office, Largo FL
Volusia County Medical Examiner's Office, Daytona Beach FL
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner Office - Decatur, GA & Six Regional Facilities GA
Fulton County Medical Examiner Center, Atlanta, GA GA
Polk County Medical Examiner's Office, Des Moines, IA IA
Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner, Ankeny, Iowa IA
Cook County Medical Examiner Office, Chicago IL
Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, Wichita KS
Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Louisville KY
Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office, Harvey LA
Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Baltimore MD
Sparrow Hlth Systems Forensic Pathology-MEO for Allegan,Barry,Eaton,Livingston,Muskegon,Shiawassee MI
Kent County Medical Examiner Office, Grand Rapids MI
Hennepin County Medical Examiner, Minneapolis MN
Midwest Medical Examiners, Anoka County Coon Rapids, Ramsey MN
Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office, Hastings, MN MN
Ramsey County Medical Examiner, St. Paul, Minnesota MN
Jackson County Medical Examiner Office, Kansas City MO
New Hampshire Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Concord, NH NH
Middlesex County Medical Examiner's Office, North Brunswick, NJ NJ
New Jersey State Medical Examiner Office, Newark NJ
Office of Chief Medical Investigator, Albuquerque, NM NM
Suffolk County Medical Examiner Office, Hauppauge, New York NY
Franklin County Coroner, Columbus, Ohio OH
Montgomery County Coroner Office, Dayton OH
Greene County Coroner Office, Xenia, Ohio OH
Summit County Medical Examiner's Office - Akron, OH OH
Hamilton County Coroner Office, Cincinnati OH
Institute of Forensic Sciences, San Juan, PR PR
Office of State Medical Examiner, Providence, RI RI
Davidson County Medical Examiner Office, Nashville TN
The Regional Forensic Center - Knoxville, TN TN
Shelby County Medical Examiner Office, Memphis TN
William L. Jenkins Forensic Center, Johnson City TN
Office of Hamilton County Medical Examiner - Chattanooga, TN TN
Travis County Medical Examiner's Office, Austin, TX TX
Dallas County Medical Examiner Office, Dallas TX
Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, Houston TX
Tarrant County Medical Examiner Office, Fort Worth TX
Bexar County Forensic Science Center, San Antonio TX
Collin County Medical Examiner's Office, McKinney TX
Northern Region Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Manassas VA
Tidewater District, Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Norfolk VA
Western District, Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Roanoke VA
Vermont Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Burlington VT
Clark County Medical Examiner's Office, Vancouver WA
Pierce County Medical Examiner, Tacoma, Washington WA
King County Medical Examiner Office, Seattle WA
Spokane County Medical Examiner Office, Spokane WA
Milwaukee County Medical Examiner Office, Milwaukee WI

Click here for more of our series: Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America.