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February 19, 1997

Medical Examiners, Forensic Pathologists, and Coroners-Reply

Author Affiliations

Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1997;277(7):531-532. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540310029024

In Reply.  —The generalizations by Dr DiMaio about coroners hold truths and echo the viewpoint of many Americans. Di-Maio is correct that coroner training courses are not a singular solution to the systemic problems that he cites. However, my article was written to offer constructive suggestions for improving existing coroner systems, not, as inferred, to advocate perpetuation of coroner systems. I recommended that states set a goal of reducing long-term training needs. One outcome of such planning might be to create medical examiner systems rather than spending considerable time, effort, and money on continual coroner training. However, even if all coroners were replaced with forensic pathologist medical examiner systems, training needs would exist for the death investigators who assist the medical examiner in tasks such as receiving and documenting reports of deaths and conducting death scene investigations,1-3 tasks that forensic pathologist medical examiners are not able or willing to do