Forensic Technology Center of Excellence

Introduction

Death Certification by the Medical Examiner/Coroner in Drug-Related Deaths

Death Certification by the Medical Examiner/Coroner in Drug-Related Deaths

← Back to MDI Webinar Series

This webinar originally occurred on November 30th, 2021 
Duration: 1 hour

Considering the steadily rising number of overdose deaths in recent years, public health systems rely on the vital role of medicolegal death investigation (MDI) to better understand why people are dying and to determine the best course of action to prevent future drug-related deaths. MDI offices maintain thorough documentation on these cases, but often the only information available for public health purposes is through the wording on death certificates, which is coded and transmitted through ICD-10 codes. It is difficult to fully understand the extent of the opioid epidemic without consistency in how crucial information is expressed on death certificates. Therefore, is it vital that the medical examiner or coroner who is certifying these unnatural deaths understands how the information is being translated and recognizes how to best convey the summary of an entire investigation into the condensed form of a death certificate.

This webinar will cover best practices for determining cause of death in suspected drug-related deaths, including performance of autopsy and toxicology when possible. It will also include some recommendations for when a drug-related death should be suspected based on a decedent’s history and scene findings. This webinar will dive into specifics on how drugs should be listed on the death certificate once the cause of death is established. This is especially important for deaths related to multiple drugs detected in the system and in death investigations where the cause of death is a complication of acute intoxication that might otherwise be considered a natural death (such as a stroke). Best practice recommendations on manner of death will also be covered, as will understanding the difference between including information on parts 1 and 2 of the death certificate. Information will be presented on filing death certificates with a pending cause and/or manner of death, and lastly best practice recommendations for completion of the injury information on the death certificate will be presented.

Detailed Learning Objectives:
Attendees will be able to:
1.) Understand how the information listed on a death certificate is coded and used for public health purposes.
2.) Identify how to list drugs on a death certificate when they are the primary cause of death.
3.) Determine how best to complete the injury description on a death certificate to convey the most information possible.

Presenter:
Kelly Keyes, D-ABMDI | Retired, Supervising Medicolegal Death Investigator, Orange County Sheriff's Office Coroner Division, California

View Archived Webinar Here


Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence webinar has been provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this webinar are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Contact us at ForensicCOE@rti.org with any questions and subscribe to our newsletter for notifications.


Related Content

test tube & molecules

Use of Rapid Toxicology Screening Tools in Medical Examiner/Coroner Offices

Date November 2021 Summary All medical examiner/coroner (ME/C) offices must make difficult decisions when allocating resources for timely, complete medicolegal death investigations. In some cases, toxicological analysis of a decedent’s biological specimens (e.g., blood, urine, tissue) can help determine cause…

2019 National Institute of Justice Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…