Coroners Don't Need Degrees To
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John W. Poole/NPR
February 2, 2011
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Curt Green (CurtGreen) wrote:
Fortunately Silke you
were able to straighten out the folks who had questions about Medicolegal death
I realize I couldn't possibly shed any light because I am just an elected
By the way, I would put my staffs qualifications and experience against a
majority of the ME's offices in the country.
I guess my years of experience working ER's, decades of prehospital care, over a
decade of recovery and removal experience, formal education, thousands of death
investigations, thousands of physical exams, 7 certifications, experience as a
diener, membership in NAME, IACME, WCMEA, Board Certified F-ABMDI, attendance at
numerous national training conferences in numerous states within the last
several years, lecturing at our local tech college couldn't possibly qualify me
to give an opinion.
And by the way, to the gentleman who stated that a Coroner wouldn't be able to
find the cause of death for someone who may have died as a result of someone
"shooting microwaves through a wall" and "waiting years for them to die" and
suggesting this is a homicide... You're right, I haven't found one yet but I am
certainly going to spend a lot of my time looking for a "Homicide by microwave".
Thanks for the tip.
09, 2011 12:31:05 PM
@Curt That may be.
But I doubt they would've done any better putting it together had they spoken to
you, given your emotional and staccato-like attempt to articulate the "system"
Perhaps a reasonably
intelligent person could put it together.
The series reporters weren't able to. They were after sensationalism.
@Curt If the "other
article" to which you refer is the one where she says "please do some research
before making an entire profession look incompetent and lazy", which you quote
as well, I found it.
As for "missing (your) point and hers (refer to her comment on the other
article)", I don't find anywhere in that comment where she addresses the
interrelationship between coroners and MEs. She details the education needed to
become a forensic pathologist.
She doesn't say anything there about "Each state is different and within a state
each county may be very different."
While there may be some truth (have you now branched out beyond WI?) that "to
provide answers to your questions would be impossible unless you are refering to
a particular county within a state", I'll prefer her to give answers to my
questions, thank you.
What I've learned from you is this: the system (at least in WI) of death
investigation involving coroners and MEs is so convoluted that a layman like me
shouldn't even begin to try to understand it. And it certainly does seem
piecemeal and complicated, but I'm certain that a reasonably intelligent person
can at least begin to put it together.
@Curt Please take
note that I wrote to Dr Hummel, "...and I understand you may only be able to
speak about the state in which you practice." So I didn't bring it down to a
county level. Gee.
The tone of your initial post was, at minimum, aggressive. Furthermore, you
blasted me for making statements that may not apply to WI's situation, while
allowing that WI's system may be an 'anomoly'.
For the moment, I'm tempted to think the arrival of Dr Hummel here made you be a
bit less cock-sure; clearly it made you cool down a bit.
My comment wasn't meant as an insult, I was pointing out that you were providing
incorrect information based on the articles/series misinformation and extreme
generalization that an ME is an ME and a Coroner is a Coroner. It all depends on
where you are.
Jennifer's information is correct regarding the system she is familiar with but
as you ask questions regarding specifics in relation to the roles and
responsibilities of Coroners and ME's you seem to be missing my point and hers
(refer to her comment on the other article). Each state is different and within
a state each county may be very different. Therefore to provide answers to your
questions would be impossible unless you are refering to a particular county
within a state.
The article went for sensationalism.
They could have simply stated "Basic standards needed for Coroners and MEs and
death investigators, and left it at that. Reviewing Jennifer's other comment
regarding the series I would agree with her that the writers should "please do
some research before making an entire profession look incompetent and lazy." I
realize she was talking about pathologists but it applies to death investigators
@Jennifer And two
other questions... Is ever the coroner and ME one and the same person? Would a
(non-ME) coroner ever perform an autopsy, whether legally-required (by statute)
@Jennifer Piecing it
together, would I be correct to think that:
1) All counties have a coroner, elected or appointed, and
2) that office performs death investigations "in the field", both "cause &
3) ultimately making a judgment whether the death requires, by statute, further
investigation via autopsy performed by an ME, who may or not be based in that
county? (I assume deaths deemed not to require an ME's autopsy can still be
autopsied at a family's request, and by any board-certified pathologist.)
4) And coroners are peripheral to and not involved with in-hospital deaths?
@Jennifer Thank you
for weighing in with your unique expertise and for your close reading of my
comments, correcting me as necessary and without the superfluous emotion
expressed by the coroner. Some questions, and I understand you may only be able
to speak about the state in which you practice:
What triggers a "routine hospital autopsy", other than at family's request? To
clarify, one cannot own the title of Medical Examiner without residency training
& board certification in both clinical pathology and forensic pathology (which,
of course, presumes an MD or DO)? In counties that have an ME, is there only
one? And she or he performs the autopsies on deaths which occurred under
statute-defined, typically suspicious or unusual, circumstances including but
not limited to the in-hospital cases you mentioned? Does every county have a
coroner, regardless of whether it has an ME? If so, then in an instance where a
rural county has no ME, who judges whether a death is an "ME case"? The coroner,
who, in some cases, would be an elected official, such as @Curt? Would you agree
with @Curt that "the most important part of any medico-legal death investigation
is the field investigation"? Are coroners involved only with out-of-hospital
SikeLipp, as a
pathologist, thank you for your mostly accurate comments. This series of
articles is so inaccurate, it's exhausting to read!
To answer someone's question about hospital autopsies: any board certified
pathologist can do those, because they completed the required number during
pathology residency, and subsequently passed the boards. If a death in a
hospital is deemed to be a medical examiner case (a.k.a. a forensic pathologist
with an M.D. or D.O. who has passed both the pathology boards AND the forensic
pathology boards; no other degrees are acceptable/valid), usually the medical
examiner will come to the hospital to do the case rather than moving the body.
This includes cases where for example, someone checked in to the ER but died
less than 24 hours later or cases where people die soon after surgery. If during
the course of a routine hospital autopsy, some sort of medical negligence is
suspected, risk managment is notified as well as the medical examiner.
If anyone has questions, let me know rather than referring to this series of
articles. The issues regarding budgeting and thinly-stretched resources are spot
on, but the description of those involved and thier roles is incorrect in many