The medical examiners are licensed physicians who subspecialize in forensic pathology. They work closely with investigators within the department and police detectives who obtain information related to the person's demise.
The determination of a cause of death can be straight-forward or may be more complicated, requiring the assistance of toxicology tests, laboratory reports, hospital records, histologic examination of tissues, and other studies. The determination of a cause of death may occasionally take months to complete. The five manners of death are natural, accidental, homicide, suicide and undetermined.
In addition to their work in the autopsy room, the medical examiners juggle a busy schedule that includes investigating scenes of deaths, teaching medical, paramedical, legal, law enforcement and other professional groups, testifying in court, and providing expert consultation on injured living victims.
Medical examiners work with police and with other law enforcement agencies to make an accurate assessment of the facts surrounding a person’s death, particularly when that death occurs in unexplained or criminal circumstances.
There are seven full-time staff medical examiners and four forensic pathology Fellows in training (see section on Forensic Pathology Fellowship Program).