Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the Medical Examiner's office involved?,
Pursuant to Michigan Public Act 181, P.A. 1953, as amended and the Michigan Public Health Code, Act 368, P.A. 1978, the Medical Examiner's Office is required to investigate deaths that fall into the following categories:
- All deaths in which there are unexplained, unusual or suspicious circumstances.
- Maternal deaths following abortion.
- Deaths due to poisoning, whether homicidal, suicidal, or accidental.
- Deaths following accidents, whether the injury is or is not the primary cause of death.
- When there was no physician or accredited practitioner in attendance within 30 days preceding death.
- When a physician refuses to sign or is unable to sign the death certificate.
- Deaths of inmates of public institutions, who have not been hospitalized for organic illness.
- Deaths that occur in association with, or as a result of diagnostic, therapeutic, or anesthetic procedures.
- Deaths due to neglect.
- Fetus of 20 weeks or older, unattended by a physician or practitioner.
- Sudden deaths of persons not disabled by recognizable disease processes, in which a fracture of a major bone (femur, humerus, or tibia) has occurred within the past six months.
- Deaths occurring outside of a hospital or nursing home, and not enrolled in a palliative care program under the care of a physician.
- Occupational related deaths attributable entirely or in part to external work place factors.
- Sudden and unexpected deaths occurring in infants or children under the age of 2, under circumstances not explained by a pre-existing medical problem.
Will an autopsy be performed?,
An autopsy will be performed when there is a need to establish or confirm a cause and manner of death for the purpose of issuing a death certificate, in cases involving criminal or suspected criminal wrongdoing, and in any case in which an autopsy is considered to be prudent at the Medical Examiner's discretion.
Will I be charged for Medical Examiner services/reports?,
There is no fee for the autopsy and the resultant medical opinion regarding cause and manner of death. One copy of the investigator's report, autopsy report, and toxicology report (when applicable) will be made available to the nearest next-of-kin at no cost, once the case is closed.
What should I do after being made aware of the death, and the involvement of the Medical Examiner?,
Select a funeral home and advise the funeral director of the involvement of the Medical Examiner's Office. Funeral directors are familiar with the operation of our office, and will assist you in making all arrangements for final disposition, including obtaining the death certificate. The funeral director will also pick up the decedent's personal property that is not being held as evidence. Often the deceased will be released the next day from our facility.
When will I be able to obtain a death certificate?,
Arrangements to obtain certified copies of the death certificate are handled for the family by the funeral home. Your funeral director will be able to answer this question for you.
NOTE: On occasion, an exact cause or manner of death is not immediately determined following an autopsy or investigation. Special laboratory tests or further investigation may be necessary. In those situations, a pending death certificate will be filed, and later replaced with an amended death certificate once the cause and/or manner of death has been established.
How do I obtain a cremation permit?,
Your local funeral home will be able to work with our office to assist you with obtaining a cremation permit.