The Coroner’s responsibility is to establish the cause of death and manner of death, as well as a positive ID of the decedent. After assessing the facts through interviews and review of medical records, the Coroner may decide in some cases that the cause of death was natural without surrounding questions or suspicion. The Coroner may then decide that it is not necessary to hold a postmortem examination.
In other cases, the Coroner may decide that an autopsy should be performed. This is a medical examination of the body carried out by a forensic pathologist. The consent of the next-of-kin is not required.
The postmortem examination may be supported by scientific tests including:
Histology - Detailed examination of the cell structure of an organ
Toxicology - Measurement of the level of a poison, for example; drugs or alcohol
Cause of Death Determination
After the Coroner gathers all the medical information from medical records and the autopsy findings, along with the Coroner's Office investigation and that of involved law enforcement agencies, the Coroner will make a conclusion as to the manner and cause of death. The manner and cause of death is certified by the Coroner on the death certificate.