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August 22, 1891

THE CORONER SYSTEM IN THE UNITED STATES.Read in the Section of State Medicine, at the Forty-second Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association, held at Washington, V. C, May, 1891.

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1891;XVII(8):277-283. doi:10.1001/jama.1891.02410860001001

I am aware that the great body of the medical profession have regarded the coroner and his duties as a subject bearing only an indirect relation to the practice of medicine. It was not until 1877, when the coroner laws were pretty thoroughly investigated in Massachusetts, that I believed they demanded revision.

The investigation of the law as practiced in Massachusetts showed clearly that it was not adapted to the best ends of justice; that the coroner, no matter how skilled in any branch of special training, could, under the law, scarcely be expected to discharge his duties in a satisfactory manner. In other words, that the primal fault lay, not so much in the functionary as in the class of duties he was expected to fulfill. The analysis of these duties showed that the same person was expected to be competent as a medical expert, to serve as an