Medical examiner is a public official with the authority to investigate certain types of deaths. These types include homicides; suicides; and unusual, sudden, or suspicious deaths for which the cause is unknown. A medical examiner is required to determine the cause and manner of death in such cases.
Medical examiners are licensed physicians. They are often also certified as forensic pathologists, physicians specially trained in studying bodies to determine a cause of death. A medical examiner conducts a scientific investigation based on physical evidence. Some of this evidence is gathered during an autopsy. An autopsy is an internal and external examination of a dead person.
Unlike some coroners, who are usually elected, medical examiners are most often appointed by a state, provincial, or local government. The coroner’s system has been criticized because few of the people elected have the necessary medical and legal knowledge. Since the mid-1960’s, medical examiners have replaced coroners in many areas.
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