National Vital Statistics System

Impact of Medical Examiners and Coroners in Public Health

Image of morgue

“Let conversation cease, let laughter flee, for this is the place where death delights to help the living.“

- Giovanni Morgagni, as inscribed on the wall of the NYC Medical Examiner’s Office

Public health relies on medical examiners and coroners for quality data about deaths they investigate including those that are sudden, unexpected, or unexplained.

Medicolegal death investigations conducted by medical examiners and coroners are crucial to understanding causes of death, monitoring evolving health challenges, and – ultimately – saving lives.

Collaborating Office of Medical Examiners and Coroners

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The Collaborating Office of Medical Examiners and Coroners (COMEC) works to bring together resources from across CDC to support the work in the medical examiner and coroner community.

Writing Cause-of-Death Statements on Death Certificates

To improve mortality statistics, we offer online trainings, publications, presentations, and guidance for investigating deaths and certifying cause-of-death on death certificates.

Writing Cause of Death Statement Materials

Modernizing Death Data and Systems

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To modernize the nation’s death data and systems and promote quality and timely data, we engage with medical examiners and coroners by offering support and resources.

Highlighted Links

Federal Interagency Medicolegal Death Investigation Working Group

Strengthening medicolegal death investigation through collaboration

Modernizing the National Vital Statistics Systems

Reinventing the National Vital Statistics Systems to make data on births and deaths more available for action.

Assessing laws

Coroner/Medical Examiner Laws by State (CDC Public Health Law)

State Medical Examiners and Coroners Organizations

Directory of ME/C offices around the country

Modernizing Drug Death Data

Improving the timeliness and quality of drug overdose death data

Guidance for disasters

Developing disaster-related death investigation materials (National Center for Environmental Health)

Why it Matters

More specific and up-to-date information from medical examiners and coroners is improving mortality data and statistics

Data Timeliness 

More death records faster

Medical examiners and coroners have made a significant contribution to our nation’s ability to meet death reporting goals, especially for major public health crises like drug overdose and suicide.

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Data Quality

Battling the opioid epidemic

Medical examiners and coroners have increased specific-drug reporting on death certificates up to 94% as of 2019, helping to recognize changes in the pattern of the opioid epidemic.

Chart showing drug overdose deaths