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Frequently Asked Questions

This page is devoted to answering some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If you do not find the answer to your question, please email us.
What is the difference between a Medical Examiner and a Coroner?
Medical Examiners and coroners are two different groups that meet a similar need in their communities. Coroners are part of an older system dating back many centuries, to a time when the job of the "Crowner" was to make sure a decedent's taxes had been paid to the King. Today, the coroner's main duties are to inquire into the cause and manner of a death, and to complete the death certificate. Coroners are usually elected laypersons who may or may not have medical training, depending on local statutes. Coroners contract with pathologist or forensic pathologist who provides autopsies and medical expertise to support the coroner's investigations.

In contrast, the Medical Examiner system is a modern invention, a streamlined system for medicolegal death investigation. Medical Examiners are almost always appointed to their positions rather than elected, are always physicians, and should have specialized training in forensic pathology. The Medical Examiner system is the trend of the future in death investigation in the United States, with over half of the states using this system.

In rare circumstances, the terminology may become complex, as a Forensic Pathologist may also be the elected Coroner.

In the state of Missouri, larger urban counties operate under Medical Examiner jurisdiction, while smaller counties, by statute, operate under coroner jurisdiction. Coroners from several rural Missouri counties contract with the Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy services when needed.Medical Examiner

Show All Answers

1. What cases should be reported to the Medical Examiner Office?
2. Who is a Medical Examiner?
3. What is the difference between a Medical Examiner and a Coroner?
4. What is Forensic Pathology?
5. Who is a Forensic Pathologist?
6. How is jurisdiction determined?
7. What is an autopsy?
8. Can I stop an autopsy?
9. Is there a charge for an autopsy?
10. Under what circumstances is an autopsy performed or not performed?
11. How do I request an autopsy report?
12. How do I request a death certificate?
13. How can I request a correction to a death certificate?
14. May I view my loved one at the Medical Examiner's Office?
15. What is the process for claiming my loved one’s body?
16. How can I retrieve my loved one’s personal property?
17. What is the Medical Examiner's Office role in organ and tissue donation?
18. What if a decedent has no next-of-kin or the body is not claimed?