The primary role of the medical examiner is to investigate the deaths of individuals in Clark County over which he/she has jurisdiction; the purpose of the investigation is to determine the cause of death. The types of deaths over which the medical examiner has jurisdiction include those resulting from:
- from unknown or obscure causes
- while in jail or prison
- under suspicious or unusual circumstances
- posing a threat to the public health
The investigation is usually performed in conjunction with a police agency and includes collecting information concerning the circumstances surrounding the death and obtaining the medical and social histories of the deceased. The autopsy is a test used by the pathologist to identify injuries and diseases and collect specimens for toxicology. An autopsy is required in many cases and is used in conjunction with the investigation to determine the cause of death. Medical-legal Death Investigation and Autopsy: Answers for families and friends (below) is provided by the National Association of Medical Examiners.
The medical examiner also is responsible for initiating and signing the death certificate for an individual when jurisdiction over the deceased is assumed. The medical examiner formulates an opinion as to the manner of death (homicide, suicide, accident, natural or undetermined). Death certificates are completed by the funeral home and filed with Vital Records. For information on obtaining a death certificate, contact Vital Records.
The office provides services as needed seven days a week.