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INTRODUCTION

The US Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of The National Academies to conduct a workshop that would examine the interface of the medicolegal death investigation system and the criminal justice system. NIJ was particularly interested in a workshop in which speakers would highlight not only the status and needs of the medicolegal death investigation system as currently administered by medical examiners and coroners but also its potential to meet emerging issues facing contemporary society in America. Additionally, the workshop was to highlight priority areas for a potential IOM study on this topic.

To achieve those goals, IOM constituted the Committee for the Workshop on the Medicolegal Death Investigation System, which developed a workshop that focused on the role of the medical examiner and coroner death investigation system and its promise for improving both the criminal justice system and the public health and health care systems, and their ability to respond to terrorist threats and events. Six panels were formed to highlight different aspects of the medicolegal death investigation system, including ways to improve it and expand it beyond its traditional response and meet growing demands and challenges.

The workshop was held on March 24-25, 2003. There were six panels that considered the following topics: status, infrastructure and training; professionalism, standards, and quality; a comparison of the medical examiner and coroner systems; medicolegal death



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1 INTRODUCTION The US Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of The National Academies to conduct a workshop that would examine the interface of the medicolegal death investigation system and the criminal justice system. NIJ was particularly interested in a workshop in which speakers would highlight not only the status and needs of the medicolegal death investigation system as currently administered by medical examiners and coroners but also its potential to meet emerging issues facing contemporary society in America. Additionally, the workshop was to highlight priority areas for a potential IOM study on this topic. To achieve those goals, IOM constituted the Committee for the Workshop on the Medicolegal Death Investigation System, which developed a workshop that focused on the role of the medical examiner and coroner death investigation system and its promise for improving both the criminal justice system and the public health and health care systems, and their ability to respond to terrorist threats and events. Six panels were formed to highlight different aspects of the medicolegal death investigation system, including ways to improve it and expand it beyond its traditional response and meet growing demands and challenges. The workshop was held on March 24-25, 2003. There were six panels that considered the following topics: status, infrastructure and training; professionalism, standards, and quality; a comparison of the medical examiner and coroner systems; medicolegal death

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investigation and the criminal justice system; medicolegal death investigation and public health and the health care system; and homeland security and emergency preparedness (See Appendixes A and B). This report summarizes the Workshop presentations and discussions that followed them. The report identifies the viewpoints of the presenters and discussants; details of their affiliations appear in Appendix B. The committee was not constituted to draw conclusions or offer recommendations. It was assembled only to oversee the workshop, and it is responsible for the accuracy of this document.