Initial Report of Death and Case Classification

Case report is taken by investigative staff from police, hospital staff or paramedics at scene of death. A decision is made as to jurisdiction on case. The case may be classified as:

A.Non-jurisdiction, i.e. a clear cut natural death with an attending physician willing to issue certificate.

B. Jurisdiction requiring an examination at the Medical Examiner's Office Morgue.

C. Jurisdiction, but not requiring examination at the Medical Examiner's Office Morgue.

[(B) and (C) are certified by the Medical Examiner but (C) category are those cases in which legal sequelae are unlikely, diagnosis has been established at the hospital and usually constitute injury from simple falls at home in elderly persons.]

Scene Investigation

Scene of death visited by investigator (when death is not pronounced in a medical institution). Photographs taken, appropriate evidence taken into custody, body transported to morgue (in cooperation with police department). In cases of suspected homicide, the Medical Examiner is usually called to the scene.

Hospital Death Procedures

In hospitalized cases, body, clothing and effects are transported by investigator to the morgue, together with relevant medical records and admission blood specimens where toxicologic analysis is indicated.

Ancillary Investigative Data

Investigative information is obtained from appropriate sources:

A. Last person to see decedent alive.

B. Person who discovered body.

C. Person closest to or most intimate with deceased.

D. Other relevant witnesses.

E. Police or other investigating agencies involved.

F. Medical authorities involved.

Postmortem Examination

An examination of the body may be performed:

A. External examination at Medical Examiner's Morgue by Medical Examiner or his deputy (usually in obvious cases of natural death).

B. An autopsy by Medical Examiner or his deputies (external examination and internal examination which may be complete including head, chest and abdomen, or partial where indicated). An autopsy will frequently include toxicologic examination (for drugs and poison) or microscopic examination, and occasionally clinical chemistry, bacteriology or serologic studies. Documentation by photography is routine; x-rays are taken when appropriate. The pathologist is assisted usually by the autopsy technician; investigators are also trained as standby technicians.

C. Autopsy performed at hospital by staff pathologist under supervision by Medical Examiner.


Autopsy and investigative reports are prepared, retained in case file and copies issued to all interested parties. All appropriate medical and outside investigative documentation is retained in case file, together with evidence receipts, investigative log sheets and other pertinent records.

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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.

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