sional organizations should 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 eligible to compete for funds. Funding should be available to support pathologists seeking forensic fellowships. In addition, forensic pathology fellows could be allowed to apply for medical school loan forgiveness if they stay full time at a medical examiner’s office for a reasonable period of time.

Additionally, NIFS should seek funding from Congress to support the joint development of programs to include medical examiners and medical examiner offices in national disaster planning, preparedness, and consequence management, involving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DHS. Uniform statewide and interstate standards of operation would be needed to assist in the management of cross-jurisdictional and interstate events. NIFS should support a federal program underwriting the development of software for use by ME/C systems for the management of multisite, multiple fatality events.

NIFS should 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.

The foregoing ideas must be developed further before any concrete plans can be pursued. There are, however, 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 Congress and NIFS.


Recommendation 11:

To improve medicolegal death investigation:

  1. Congress should authorize and appropriate incentive funds to the National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS) for allocation to states and jurisdictions to establish medical examiner systems, with the goal of replacing and eventually eliminating existing coroner systems. Funds are needed to build regional medical examiner offices, secure necessary equipment, improve administration, and ensure the



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