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Medical examiner/coroner records: uses and limitations in occupational injury epidemiologic research.

Conroy C; Russell JC
J Forensic Sci 1990 Jul; 35(4):932-937
Using medical examiner or coroner (ME/C) records in occupational injury studies was discussed. The discussion focused on uses of ME/C records made by the Division of Safety Research (DSR) of NIOSH in their research program on work related trauma. The primary uses of ME/C records by the DSR has been for occupational injury surveillance, in validity studies, and as a data source. Uses of ME/C records in occupational injury surveillance was discussed. ME/C records are considered useful for occupational injury surveillance because medical examiners and coroners have the legal authority and responsibility to investigate all externally caused deaths. Studies have shown that ME/C records are better at identifying externally caused occupational fatalities than death certificates. A limitation of using ME/C records is that most states have not computerized these records. Despite this, using ME/C records allows a more rapid identification of persons killed at work than vital statistics data, which frequently do not become available until after a delay of 2 to 3 years. ME/C records have been used to validate case identification as well as other data elements in epidemiologic studies. ME/C records have been useful in identifying alcohol use by victims of occupational accidents, a factor that would not have been detected or would have been underestimated if information from other sources had been used. ME/C records usually contain very detailed information about a person's death. Such data are considered an invaluable source of information on the nature of the injury, the nature of the injuries that actually caused the death, and the results of toxicologic testing. This information is usually not available from other sources.
NIOSH-Author; Epidemiology; Mortality-data; Traumatic-injuries; Occupational-accidents; Accident-analysis; Industrial-safety; Information-systems
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Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
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Journal of Forensic Sciences
Page last reviewed: March 4, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division