tutes of Health [NIH]) and the Department of Justice or DHS. The Paul Coverdell NFSIA is the only federal grant program that names ME/Cs as eligible for grants. However, ME/Cs must compete with public safety agencies for Coverdell grants; as a result, the funds available to ME/Cs have been significantly reduced. NFSIA is not funded sufficiently to provide significant improvements in ME/C systems. In addition to more direct funding, other initiatives could be pursued to improve medicolegal death investigation practices.
AAMC and other appropriate professional organizations might organize collaborative activities in education, training, and research to strengthen the relationship between the medical examiner community and its counterparts in the larger academic medical community. Medical examiner offices with training programs affiliated with medical schools should be encouraged to compete for funds. Funding should be available to support pathologists who are seeking forensic fellowships. In addition, forensic pathology fellows could apply for medical school loan forgiveness if they stay full time at a medical examiner’s office for a reasonable period of time.
Additionally, the proposed National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS) should seek funding from Congress to allow it, CDC, and DHS, jointly, to design programs of interest to medical examiners and medical examiner offices in national disaster planning, preparedness, and consequence management. Uniform statewide and interstate standards of operation would be needed to assist in the management of cross-jurisdictional and interstate events. NIFS also might consider whether to support a federal program underwriting the development of software for use by ME/C systems for the management of multisite, multistate, or multiple fatality events.
NIFS also could work with groups such as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, the American Law Institute, and NAME, in collaboration with other appropriate professional groups, to update the 1954 Model Post-Mortem Examinations Act and draft legislation for a modern model death investigation code. An improved code might, for example, include the elements of a competent medical death investigation system and clarify the jurisdiction of the medical examiner with respect to organ donation. Although these ideas must be developed in greater detail before any concrete plans can be pursued, the committee makes a number of specific recommendations, which, if adopted, will help to modernize and improve the medicolegal death investigation system. These recommendations deserve the immediate attention of NIFS and Congress.