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April 1989

Death Investigation—UnitedStates, 1987

Am J Dis Child. 1989;143(4):447-448. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1989.02150160069013

Death Investigation—United States, 1987

In the United States, medical examiners and coroners (ME/Cs) are responsible for investigating violent, suspicious, or unexpected deaths and deaths that are unattended by a physician.

In 1981, the Office of Maternal and Child Health compiled information on the death investigation systems in the United States.1 To update this information, during fall 1987, CDC surveyed either the state ME's office, the state vital registrar's office, or the state ME/C's association. Current information was obtained for all states except Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and Ohio. For these six states, information is from the 1981 report.

There are three basic types of death investigation systems:

1. Medical Examiner. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have a state chief ME who is responsible for investigating deaths for the entire state.

2. Coroner. Twelve states have county or district coroners who are responsible for investigating deaths within

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