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Forensic Pathology & Death Investigations in Pima County Green Valley Council Gregory L. Hess, MD Chief Medical Examiner Pima County Office of the Medical.

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Presentation on theme: "Forensic Pathology & Death Investigations in Pima County Green Valley Council Gregory L. Hess, MD Chief Medical Examiner Pima County Office of the Medical."— Presentation transcript:

1 Forensic Pathology & Death Investigations in Pima County Green Valley Council Gregory L. Hess, MD Chief Medical Examiner Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner

2 Overview Purpose of it all Purpose of it all Brief history of death investigation Brief history of death investigation Coroner, Medical Examiner, Forensic Pathologist Coroner, Medical Examiner, Forensic Pathologist Death investigation systems Death investigation systems Arizona death investigation Arizona death investigation Pima County Pima County Office specifics Office specifics Types of death Types of death

3 Purpose of the Medical Examiner’s Office Determines cause and manner of death of decedents that fall under jurisdiction of ME Determines cause and manner of death of decedents that fall under jurisdiction of ME Aid justice system Aid justice system Collect evidence Collect evidence Testify Testify Interpret injury Interpret injury Estimate postmortem interval Estimate postmortem interval Assist both prosecution and defense Assist both prosecution and defense

4 Purpose of the Medical Examiner’s Office Public health Public health Report deaths due to communicable disease Report deaths due to communicable disease Authorize cremation Authorize cremation Tissue and organ donation Tissue and organ donation Vital statistics Vital statistics Assist families Assist families Answer questions Answer questions Timely death certification for funeral arrangements Timely death certification for funeral arrangements

5 Medical Examiner Jurisdiction No doctor available to sign death certificate No doctor available to sign death certificate Violence Violence Sudden and unexpected Sudden and unexpected Threat to public health Threat to public health Prisoner or in a prison Prisoner or in a prison Suspicious, unusual, unnatural Suspicious, unusual, unnatural Related to occupation Related to occupation Related to medical procedure Related to medical procedure Unidentified Unidentified

6 What’s The Difference? Coroner Coroner Forensic Pathologist Forensic Pathologist Medical Examiner Medical Examiner

7 Coroner Often elected, term limit Often elected, term limit Qualification specified by local law Qualification specified by local law May not have any medical background May not have any medical background Concept from England Concept from England Minimal practical modern use Minimal practical modern use

8 Forensic Pathologist Physician (pathologist) Physician (pathologist) Additional training in forensics Additional training in forensics Work in larger population centers Work in larger population centers Criminal case work and testimony Criminal case work and testimony Pima County runs a Forensic Pathologist managed death investigation system Pima County runs a Forensic Pathologist managed death investigation system No coroners in Arizona, only ME’s and alternate ME’s No coroners in Arizona, only ME’s and alternate ME’s

9 Medical Examiner Often appointed by government without term limit Often appointed by government without term limit Often a physician (can be any kind) Often a physician (can be any kind) May be appointed non-physician May be appointed non-physician May not be a Forensic Pathologist May not be a Forensic Pathologist Non-Forensic Pathologist medical examiner’s in AZ are called ‘alternate medical examiner’s’ by statute Non-Forensic Pathologist medical examiner’s in AZ are called ‘alternate medical examiner’s’ by statute

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12 Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME) Construction completed in 1989 Construction completed in 1989 Renovated Renovated Staff of 33 Staff of 33 Storage capacity of 262 full remains Storage capacity of 262 full remains ~150 remains currently on location to include skeletal remains ~150 remains currently on location to include skeletal remains

13 PCOME Nationally accredited, one of 75 in US, only accredited office in AZ Nationally accredited, one of 75 in US, only accredited office in AZ Post-doctoral fellowship in Forensic Anthropology, only such program in US Post-doctoral fellowship in Forensic Anthropology, only such program in US ~60% of operating budget covered by revenue ~60% of operating budget covered by revenue Lowest per capita cost for death investigation (>200,000) in AZ Lowest per capita cost for death investigation (>200,000) in AZ

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17 Total Cases

18 MANNER OF DEATH

19 Homicide

20 Homicide by Cause

21 Accident by Cause

22 Overdose Deaths by Manner

23 Overdose Deaths by Drug

24 Overdose Deaths

25 MVA by Type

26 Suicide by Cause

27 Natural Deaths by Cause

28 UBC Deaths

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30 Questions?


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