Whenever a crime scene involves the death of a person, a coroner or medical examiner is called to investigate. In some jurisdictions, a coroner and a medical examiner are one and the same. However, there are differences between the two.
In this article, I will try to explain the differences between a medical examiner and a medical examiner. I will also discuss what each of their job duties entails.
Across the country, there are two types of forensic investigation systems: the forensic system and the more modern forensic system. Most jurisdictions are pushing for the coroner system.
What is a coroner?
A coroner is an elected or appointed official who has no training in medical or forensic science. A coroner is a politician who wins enough votes to become the incumbent. It could be a sheriff, a dentist, a baker or the owner of a local pizzeria. He will have little or no knowledge of forensic investigation.
Over the past quarter century, the rules of the coroner’s office have evolved so that many jurisdictions today require the coroner to be a licensed physician. It can be an internist, gynecologist or dermatologist, but does not necessarily have to be a pathologist or forensic pathologist. You may not have the qualifications to perform the duties of a coroner. For this reason, the forensic system has evolved.
What is a medical examiner?
A medical examiner (ME) is a doctor of medicine who is licensed to practice medicine. Most MEs are trained in pathology, especially forensic pathology. This means they have specialized training in pathology and forensic training and experience. A forensic pathologist is a clinical pathologist who has special training in the field of forensic medicine. He is usually the person in charge of a crime lab. He is an overseer of all aspects of criminal death and injury. The primary duty of the forensic pathologist is to perform forensic autopsies, which are necessary to determine the cause and manner of death.
Many rural areas, where county, state or federal funding is minimal, still have the coroner system. Coroners in these jurisdictions are elected officials charged with investigating a death. The reason for this trend is that these developing areas simply do not have a large enough population to warrant the presence of a highly trained forensic pathologist as a medical examiner. In these circumstances, a coroner must subcontract a forensic autopsy when necessary.
With advanced technology, the forensic system will eventually become obsolete leaving the medical examiner system to fend for itself. Highly educated individuals with special expertise in forensic laboratory testing and autopsies will need to fill the medical examiner’s office position.