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Forensic Pathology & Death Investigations in Pima County

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Presentation on theme: "Forensic Pathology & Death Investigations in Pima County"— 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 Brief history of death investigation
Coroner, Medical Examiner, Forensic Pathologist Death investigation systems Arizona death investigation Pima County Office specifics 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 Aid justice system Collect evidence Testify Interpret injury Estimate postmortem interval Assist both prosecution and defense

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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




17 Total Cases


19 Homicide

20 Homicide by Cause

21 Accident by Cause

22 Overdose Deaths by Manner - 2012

23 Overdose Deaths by Drug - 2012

24 Overdose Deaths

25 MVA by Type

26 Suicide by Cause

27 Natural Deaths by Cause - 2012

28 UBC Deaths


30 Questions?

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