Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the medical examiner's office?
To investigate deaths in the county in order to determine which cases fall under the medical examiner's jurisdiction and to determine cause and manner of death. On medical examiner's cases, an example of cause of death would be hypertensive heart disease. Manner is grouped into categories: natural, homicide, suicide, accident, pending, or indeterminate.
What type of death fall under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner's Office?
The ME office is responsible for handling any unexpected or trauma related deaths. Natural deaths typically do not fall under ME jurisdiction unless there is insufficient medical history to have a death certificate signed by a physician.
Does every death investigation include an autopsy?
No. A complete autopsy may not be performed if there is adequate medical history to establish cause of death and there are no signs of foul play.
Does the ME need permission to conduct an autopsy?
According to Michigan state law, the ME does not need permission from the next-of-kin before an autopsy can be conducted.
Is tissue donation handled by the ME office?
The ME must grant permission for the organ procurement agency to proceed with tissue or organ procurement in order to ensure that the duties of the investigation are not compromised. Outside of that, tissue or organ donation is handled through the organ procurement agency.
When and how is the body released to the funeral home?
Most autopsy cases can be released within 24-48 hours. Some cases requiring further investigation may not be available for release as quickly. The ME office makes every attempt to complete its investigation as rapidly and efficiently as possible; however, isolated cases may take additional time. The next-of-kin is responsible for making funeral arrangements. Once services are arranged, the funeral home will contact the ME office to notify us they will be handling the services. They are required to present a release form signed by the next-of-kin to pick up the body.
What happens to personal property of the decedent?
Personal property brought in with the body is inventoried and then released to the funeral home. In some instances such as a homicide, personal property is considered evidence and will be released to the investigating law enforcement agency.
When is the autopsy report available?
The autopsy report is available when the pathologist has received all the results from the tests at autopsy and compiled these findings into a report. A Pending death certificate will be certified once the pathologist has reviewed the file and the investigating police agency has finalized their investigation.
Contact the Medical Examiner's office at (586) 469-5214 or Email us now.