Medical Examiner-What family's need to know

At the DeKalb County Medical Examiners Office, we work diligently around the clock to provide the best services to you and your family in this time of need and comfort. 

 

About the Medical Examiner’s Office

In an effort to improved the system of investigating deaths in DeKalb County Georgia, DeKalb County transitioned from a coroner system to a medical examiner system through referendum.

The change was initiated by a DeKalb County Grand Jury in 1978 and then approved by voters in 1980. DeKalb County became the second county in the State of Georgia to abolish the office of the coroner and adopt the appointed office of the Medical Examiner. Fulton County was the first; Cobb and Gwinnet Counties following later.

The Medical Examiner serves the community by utilizing the knowledge of forensic science and medicine to investigate deaths that constitute a concern to the health and safety of the public. There are a variety of reasons why an accurate determination of cause and manner of death are important;

  • The proper administration of justice by collecting evidence used in criminal and civil proceedings.
  • A thorough medicolegal investigation may provide for the expeditious settlement of insurance claims and estates, which is often crucial for the surviving family.
  • Additionally, but not limited to recognizing epidemic threats to public health, defective products, dangerous occupational environments, deaths due to therapeutic intervention, and ensuring that law enforcement officials do not engage in or are not unjustly accused of excessive force.

Process: When a death is reported to Dekalb County Medical Examiners Office, the case is assigned a sequential case number. Basic information is obtained on all cases reported. Medical Examiners Investigators, in consultation with the Medical Examiner as needed, make decisions about whether the case should be accepted or declined, if death scene investigation is required, and whether or not the body needs to be transported to the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Forensic Science Center.

The Medical Examiner then makes decisions about the type of examination to be conducted and the extent of additional testing to be performed. 

Funeral Home: If we have taken jurisdiction over the investigation you and your family should choose a funeral home.  The DeKalb County Medical Examiners Office may sometimes need to have family verify the identity of the deceased.  In these certain cases, a photo may be shown to the next closest relative for positive identification. However, the viewing should be done at the funeral home.  An investigator will advise the family if a need is required to come to the Medical Examiners Office. Any personal property will be turned over with the decedent to the funeral home. 

Autopsy Report: The average timeframe for autopsy reports to be completed is 1-3 months. The time-frame varies based on different circumstances needed to complete the investigation. Currently, 83% of all cases are completed in less than 30 days.  Often times medical records or additional blood work could be required for the cause of death to be established. Inquires to the status of the report are recommended. You can attain a report by completing the required form.  Please note to bring a valid government issued identification with you.