What is a Medical Examiner?

A Medical Examiner is a physician, usually a Forensic Pathologist. The Medical Examiner’s primary responsibility is the certification of the cause and manner of death, based on his/her expert opinion following an investigation.  The investigation may range from a review of medical records, to a complete autopsy with extensive laboratory testing, which often includes toxicology (testing for drugs, alcohol, or poisons). The report of the Medical Examiner documents the findings of the investigation, examination, and laboratory testing, and the final conclusions of the Medical Examiner (usually summed up in an Opinion). The Medical Examiner works with a team of other key individuals who assist in various ways with the investigation, administrative tasks, and autopsies. These individuals include Forensic Autopsy Technicians, Medicolegal Death Investigators, Office Specialists, Transcriptionists, and Administrators.  At the Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner's Office, the management team for the office consists of the Chief Medical Examiner/Coroner, the Operations Manager, and three Medicolegal Death Investigator/Technician Supervisors.