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Coroner's Office / Crime Laboratory

3159 Eden Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45219
PH: (513) 946-8700  |  FX: (513) 946-8730

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PURPOSE

 

The objective of this publication is to define "a Coroner's Case" for use by physicians, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and other related agencies.

 

 

DEFINITION OF

CORONER'S CASES

 

 

 

OFFICE OF CORONER

HAMILTON COUNTY , OHIO

 

 

 

TELEPHONE NUMBER

DAY OR NIGHT

513.946.8700

 

 

                                            seal

 

 

LAKSHMI KODE SAMMARCO, M.D.

3159 EDEN AVENUE

CINCINNATI, OHIO  45219

Table of Contents

 

PURPOSE...................................................................... 1

CORONER'S AUTOPSIES................................................. 1

  I.      Definition of Types of Deaths Reportable
to the Coroner's Office............................................................ 2

A.      Accidental Deaths.............................................................................. 2

B.      Homicidal deaths............................................................................... 2

C.      Suicidal deaths................................................................................... 2

D.      Sudden deaths................................................................................... 2

E.      Therapeutic Complications (Diagnostic or Therapeutic)........................... 3

F.       Any death in which there is a doubt, question or suspicion..................... 3

II.      Autopsy.................................................................. 4

A.      Official, By Coroner's Order................................................................. 4

B.      Objection To Performance of Autopsy................................................... 4

C.      Consent Autopsy................................................................................ 5

O.R.C. 2108.50 - Post-mortem examination;
persons who may give consent........................................................... 5

O.R.C. 2108.51 - Exemption from Liability.......................................... 5

O.R.C. 2108.52 - Exceptions to requirement
of consent for post-mortem examination............................................. 5

III.      Requirement to Report Deaths to Coroner........................................................... 6

A.      O.R.C. Section 313.11, Prohibit disturbance of bodies............................ 6

B.      O.R.C. Section 313.12, Notice to coroner of violent,
suspicious, unusual or sudden death of any death of a
mentally retarded or developmentally disabled person........................... 6

C.      1947 OAG Opinion No. 1723............................................................... 6

IV.      Geographic Jurisdiction of Coroner................................................................ 7

A.      In Opinion No. 1204 of 1964.............................................................. 7

B.      In 1963 OAG No. 470......................................................................... 7

 V.      Pronouncement of Death.................................................................. 7

 

CORONER'S AUTOPSIES

 

It is the policy of the Hamilton County Coroner to order an official autopsy in all cases of deaths resulting from:

 

a.    homicide

 

b.    suicide

 

c.    motor vehicle accidents

 

d.    fire or burns

 

e.    any means while in custody

 

f.     industrial accidents

 

g.    other selected accidents

 

In other cases reported to the Coroner under Item I, on the pages that follow, an official investigation and autopsy may be ordered by the Coroner.  Each of these cases will be evaluated individually.  Please check with the Coroner's Office before attempting to secure a consent autopsy (defined on page 5).

 

 

  I.      Definition of Types of Deaths Reportable to the Coroner's Office

 

A.      Accidental Deaths: 

 

1.          Blows or other forms of mechanical violence.

2.          Crushed beneath falling object.

3.          Cutting or stabbing.

4.          Drowning (actual or suspected).

5.          Electrical shock.

6.          Explosion.

7.          Exposure.

8.          Firearms.

9.          Fractures of bones (not pathological) such cases to be reported even when fracture is not primarily responsible for death.

10.          Falls.

11.          Carbon monoxide poisoning (resulting from natural gas, automobile exhaust or other).

12.          Hanging.

13.          Heat exhaustion.

14.          Sunstroke.

15.          Poisoning (food poisoning, occupational poisoning or other).

16.          Strangulation.

17.          Suffocation (foreign object in the air passages, by bed clothing or other means).

18.          Vehicular accident (automobile, airplane, boat, bus, train, motorcycle, bicycle or other).

19.          Conflagrations.

20.          All forms including deaths arising from employment.

 

B.      Homicidal deaths

 

C.      Suicidal deaths

 

D.     Sudden deaths:  If the death occurs when in apparent good health or in any suspicious or unusual manner including:

 

1.          DOA - Any person (DOA) pronounced dead on arrival at any hospital, emergency room of a hospital, or doctor's office shall be reported.

2.          Infants and young children under two years of age - Any infant or young child found dead shall be reported.

3.          All stillborn infants where there is suspected or actual injury to the mother.

4.          All deaths occurring within 24 hours of admission to a hospital unless the patient has been under the continuous care of a physician for a natural disease which is responsible for death.

5.          Deaths in custody.

6.          Deaths which follow injuries sustained at place of employment whenever the circumstances surrounding such injury may ultimately be the subject of investigations.  Deaths in this classification include caisson disease (bends), industrial infections, silicosis, industrial poisonings, contusions, abrasions, fractures, burns, or other injuries received during employment which in the opinion of the attending physician are sufficiently important, either as the cause of death, or to warrant stating them on the death certificate.

7.          Deaths under unknown circumstances, whenever there are no witnesses or where little or no information can be elicited, concerning the deceased person.

8.          Sudden death on the street, at home, in a public place, or at place of employment.

9.          Alcoholism.

10.          Drug abuse, habitual use of drugs or drug addiction.

11.          Any mentally retarded or developmentally disabled person regardless of circumstances.

 

E.      Therapeutic Complications (Diagnostic or Therapeutic)

 

1.          Anesthetic - Deaths due to or contributed to by anesthesia or complications arising there from.

2.          Surgical - Deaths dues to or contributed to by surgical procedure or complications arising there from.

3.          Operative - Deaths due to anesthesia or surgical procedure or contributed to by them or where there is doubt as to which factor is involved.

4.          Medication - Deaths due to the administration of a drug, serum, vaccine, or any other substance for diagnostic, therapeutic or immunological purpose.

5.          Blood transfusions - Deaths following the administration of blood or blood components.

 

F.      Any death in which there is a doubt, question or suspicion.

 

 

II.      Autopsy

 

A.      Official, By Coroner's Order

 

Any of the above cases reported to the Coroner and accepted as a coroner's case is subject to the performance of an official autopsy; i.e., one ordered under the authority of the Coroner.  This type of autopsy is performed without the consent of, and even in the face of affirmative opposition from the spouse or next of kin.  This authority is defined in:

 

O.R.C. 313.13, AUTOPSY

The coroner, any deputy coroner, an investigator appointed pursuant to section 313.05 of the Revised Code, or any other person the coroner designates as having the authority to act under this section may go to the dead body and take charge of it.  Whether and when an autopsy is performed shall be determined under sections 313.121 and 313.131 of the Revised Code.  If an autopsy is performed by the coroner, deputy coroner, or pathologists, a detailed description of the observations written during the progress of such autopsy, or as soon after such autopsy as reasonably possible, and the conclusions drawn from the observations shall be filed in the office of the coroner.

 

 

B.      Objection To Performance of Autopsy

 

O.R.C. Section 313.131(c)

Except as provided in division (F) of this section, if a relative or friend of the deceased person informs the coroner that an autopsy is contrary to the deceased person's religious beliefs, or the coroner otherwise has reason to believe that an autopsy is contrary to the deceased person's religious beliefs, and the coroner concludes the autopsy is compelling public necessity, no autopsy shall be performed for forty-eight hours after the coroner takes charge of the deceased person.  An autopsy is compelling public necessity if it is necessary to the conduct of an investigation by law enforcement officials of a homicide or suspected homicide, or any other criminal investigation, or is necessary to establish the cause of the deceased person's death for the purpose of protecting against an immediate and substantial threat to the public health. 

 

 

 

 

 

C.      Consent Autopsy

 

If an autopsy is not ordered by the Coroner in these same categories of cases reportable to the Coroner, the body will be released to the family.  Thereafter, the post-mortem examination may be performed by a hospital or private pathologist with the written consent of the immediate next of kin, as provided in:

 

SECTIONS 2108.50, 2108.51 and 2108.52, O.R.C.

 

O.R.C. 2108.50 - Post-mortem examination; persons who may give consent.

(A)       Subject to section 2108.521 of the Revised Code, an autopsy or post-mortem examination may be performed upon the body of a deceased person by a licensed physician or surgeon if consent has been given in the person who has the right of disposition under Section 2108.70 or 2108.81 of the Revised Code.

(B)        Consent to an autopsy or post-mortem examination given under this section may be revoked only by the person executing the consent and in the same manner as required for execution of consent under the section.

 

O.R.C. 2108.51 - Exemption from Liability

Any licensed physician or surgeon who, in good faith and acting in reliance upon an instrument of consent for an autopsy or post-mortem examination executed under section 2108.05 of the Revised Code and without actual knowledge of revocation of such consent, performs an autopsy or post-mortem examination is not liable in a civil or criminal action brought against him for such act.

 

O.R.C. 2108.52 - Exceptions to requirement of consent for post-mortem examination

The requirements of section 2108.50 of the Revised Code do not apply to a post-mortem or other examination performed under sections 313.01 to 313.22 of the Revised Code, or to medical, surgical and anatomical study performed under sections 1713.34 to 1713.42 of the Revised Code.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III.      Requirement to Report Deaths to Coroner

 

A.      O.R.C. Section 313.11, Prohibit disturbance of bodies

1.          No person, without an order from the coroner, any deputy coroner, or an investigator or other person designated by the coroner as having the authority to issue an order under this section, shall purposely remove or disturb the body of any person who has died in the manner described in section 313.12 of the Revised Code, or purposely and without such an order disturb the clothing or any article upon or near such a body or any of the possessions that the coroner has a duty to store under section 313.14 of the Revised Code.

2.          It is an affirmative defense to a charge under this section that the offender attempted in good faith to rescue or administer life-preserving assistance to the deceased person, even though it is established he was dead at the time of the attempted rescue or assistance.

3.          Whoever violates this section is guilty of unlawfully disturbing a body, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

 

B.      O.R.C. Section 313.12, Notice to coroner of violent, suspicious, unusual or sudden death of any death of a mentally retarded or developmentally disabled person.

When any person dies as a result of criminal or other violent means, by casualty, by suicide, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, when any person, including a child under two years of age, dies suddenly when in apparent good health, or when any mentally retarded person or developmentally disable person dies regardless of the circumstances, the physician called in attendance, or any member of an ambulance service, emergency squad, or law enforcement agency who obtains knowledge thereof arising from the person's duties, shall immediately notify the office of the coroner of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner, and circumstances of the death, and any other information that is required pursuant to sections 313.01 to 313.22 of the Revised Code.  In such cases, if a request is made for cremation, the funeral director called in attendance shall immediately notify the coroner.

 

As used in this section, "mentally retarded person" and "developmentally disabled person" have the same meanings as in section 5123.01 of the Revised Code.

 

C.      1947 OAG Opinion No. 1723

In case of death of any person in a hospital resulting from accident, it is the duty of physician in charge and of any other person having knowledge of fact, immediately to notify the Coroner of death, and of time, place, manner and circumstances thereof.

 

 

IV.      Geographic Jurisdiction of Coroner

 

A.      In Opinion No. 1204 of 1964, the Attorney General held that, "it is the duty and obligation of the coroner of the county in Ohio in which the death occurs to complete and sign the medical certification as to the cause of death on a death certificate where death occurs from casualty or suspicious circumstances happening in another state."

 

B.      In 1963 OAG No. 470, it was held that, "1. Where death results in one county from casualty or suspicious circumstances occurring in another county, the coroner within whose jurisdiction the injury-causing death occurred is authorized to conduct the inquest, and the inquest must be held in that county.

 

 

V.      Pronouncement of Death

 

A.      Ohio Administrative Code 4731-14-01, Pronouncement of Death

 

(A)       For purposes of this rule, a "physician" refers to an individual holding a current certificate to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery.

(B)        Only an individual holding a current certificate to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery issued under section 4731.14 of the Revised Code, a training certificate issued under section 4731.291 of the Revised Code, a visiting medical faculty certificate issued under 4731.293 of the Revised Code or a special activities certificate issued under section 4731.294 of the Ohio Revised Code, in Ohio can pronounce a person dead.

(C)       An individual as defined in paragraph (A) of this rule may pronounce a person dead without personally examining the body of the deceased only if a competent observer has recited the facts of the deceased's present medical condition to the physician and the physician is satisfied that death has occurred.

(D)       For purposes of this rule a competent observer shall mean:

                                         (1)       A registered nurse holding a current license issued under Chapter 4723 of the Revised Code;

                                         (2)       A licensed practical nurse holding a current license issued under Chapter 4723 of the Revised Code;

                                         (3)       An EMT-B holding a certificate pursuant to section 4765.30 of the Revised Code;

                                         (4)       An EMT-1 holding a certificate pursuant to section 4765.30 of the Revised Code;

                                         (5)       A paramedic holding a certificate pursuant to section 4765.30 of the Revised Code;

                                         (6)       A physician assistant holding a current certificate to practice issued under Chapter 4730 of the Revised Code who has met all requirements of Chapter 4730 of the Revised Code;

                                         (7)       A chiropractor holding a current certificate issued under Chapter 4734 of the Revised Code;

                                         (8)       An individual authorized to pronounce a person dead under section (B) of this rule or a person holding a current certificate to practice podiatric medicine and surgery in Ohio ;

                                         (9)       A coroner's investigator as referenced in Section 313.05 of the Revised Code.

 

 

 
 
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