Graphic Description – Medicolegal Death Investigation Case Specific Frequently Used Data Elements and Chart

Graphic Description – Medicolegal Death Investigation Case Specific Frequently Used Data Elements and Chart


April 2024


The National Institute of Justice (NIJ)—in partnership with its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) at RTI International and the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—convened a virtual Medicolegal Death Investigation Data Exchange Working Group (MDI-Data-WG) beginning in September 2020. This working group was formed to:  

  • Document the types of data that are commonly exchanged with public health and public safety partners and determine collective usage points for medicolegal death investigations (MDIs);  
  • Provide recommendations on how to improve the naming process for emerging drugs;  
  • Guide the drug mapping/classification process; and  
  • Recommend needed enhancements to the operation of exchanging forensic data with other organizations. 

These case specific data elements are meant to be used in addition to the commonly collected data elements that should be collected and recorded for every case. For example, overarching data elements such as location, decedent name, and age are not reiterated in these case specific data element clusters. The intent of this is to highlight several specific case types (drowning, substance related, falls, firearm related, and sudden unexpected infant deaths) and the set of data elements that need to be collected when those types of cases are suspected by a MEC. The lists are not necessarily specific to investigating manner of death which requires additional data to be collected and recorded, and in certain situation multiple sets of these elements may need to be collected (such as a case that is suspected to be either substance related and/or drowning related). Ensuring that all frequently collected data elements as well as case specific data elements are collected help to better inform investigative and public health/safety practices. This graphic can be downloaded and used in agency training to ensure all data are collected. Additionally, the graphic can be used to develop programming requirements for data developers to code medicolegal death information or assist with standardization and consistency among data exchange as part of other resources.

Full list of Medicolegal Death Investigation Frequently Used Data Elements.

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence report was provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (15PNIJ-21-GK-02192-MUMU). This work was also supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Contract Number HHSM500201200008I, Task Order Number 200-2016-F-91567).

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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