The forensic functions of the medical examiners in investigating deaths and determining the manner and the cause of the death is the responsibility of the Chief Medical Examiner.
- The Chief Medical Examiner is in charge of performing and administering autopsies, i.e., he studies dead bodies and pinpoints what caused the death of a person
- The Chief Medical Examiner must draft reports which state conclusions after they examined the dead bodies and submit it to respective authorities.
- In certain circumstances, a Chief Medical Examiner may be obligated to be a witness in the courts of law to aid in investigation of cases.
- The Chief Medical Examiner is responsible for reviewing the forensic pathology functions done in the setting.
A Chief Medical Examiner must have a college degree in science together with a degree as a doctor of medicine. A Chief Medical Examiner must have a particular expertise in handling investigations on sudden or suspicious deaths. Therefore, a Chief Medical Examiner must have obtained a certification in pathology by undergoing a residency program. The National Association of Medical Examiners and the American Academy Forensic Sciences both offer training in the field. Education in law gives the applicant an advantage. The Chief Medical Examiner must be knowledgeable of forensic principles and practices used in preparing, examining, analyzing and identifying evidence.
The primary duty of a Chief Medical Examiner is to investigate unnatural and sudden deaths. The Chief Medical Examiner becomes a resource person in establishing a person’s cause of death. It is the job of a Chief Medical Examiner to perform pathology consultations and forensic pathology in investigations of cases which raise public inquiry. The Chief Medical Examiner supervises the pathology functions performed by medical examiners.
The Chief Medical Examiner analyzes blood and DNA and performs autopsies. Sometimes, the Chief Medical Examiner has to appear in court as an expert witness to aid in the investigation of forensic civil and criminal cases. The Chief Medical Examiner provides investigations and establishes the link on evidence acquired from the scene investigation and in the autopsy. The Chief Medical Examiner also counsels families in person or thru the telephone on increasing their level of understanding regarding the cause and manner of the death of the person involved as well as the psychological and physiologic aspects of the case.