01 Feb What are the five responsibilities of a coroner?
Coroners are physicians or ME (medical examiners) called upon by law enforcement agencies to solidify and point out the causes of suspicious deaths and homicides.
The scene of death
The initial responsibility of the coroner is commenced at the scene of the crime. Often times, coroners are observed to perform an initial physical examination of the homicide victim’s body. While in certain other situations, the investigators note down valuable information upon evaluation of the crime and body and pass on such notes to the coroner.
Disposition of remains
Post the initial investigation of the body at the scene of the crime; the coroner determines whether the body is to be shifted out of the crime scene to the district morgue without any sort of contamination. With the prior permission of the enforcement agencies, the coroner extracts all the personal belongings of the victim for further investigation. In cases where the victim dies at the hospital, the coroner’s representatives will seek permission of the body’s transportation from the hospital.
In cases where coroners are not medical examiners, cannot perform autopsies. Only coroners with qualifications of medical examiners can perform such critical decisions. In cases where the coroner lacks jurisdiction, a medical examiner is called upon to consult and perform such autopsies aiding the coroner to validate the cause of death. The general misconception about coroners is that they are called only for homicides, this is however not the case as coroners are invited to identify contamination symptoms and causes of any severe health issue within the community.
Coroners who are qualified medical examiners are required to perform autopsies on the bodies for investigative purposes. After gaining necessary permission to perform autopsies, the coroners conduct toxicology searches in the body for any presence of any poisonous or toxic substance; take necessary and required samples of body fluids along with sufficient amounts of tissue for further analysis. Autopsies are performed to rule the exact cause of death. Coroners often note down their valuable observations in reports and forward them to necessary law enforcement agencies.
The other significant duties of a coroner include formulating the death certificate of the victim, informing the victim’s spouse or relative of their death and calling the time of the death of the victim’s homicide. Although coroners are considered medical professionals, they are eligible to be classified under law enforcement personnel as they are often called to speak and testify in the court of law about the victim’s death. In cases of health epidemics, coroners are required to work along with the respective public health agencies accordingly.