COVID-19 Information

The following information regarding COVID-19 is being provided as a resource for Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Family Members as to the role of the Medical Examiner and roles of the aforementioned.

Hospitals:

·        Known COVID-19 Deaths can be reported to the Medical Examiner, but ordinarily the Medical Examiner will release jurisdiction
·        COVID-19 Deaths should be reported to theSpokane Regional Health District at (509) 324-1500
·        The Medical Examiner’s Office will not perform autopsies on COVID-19 Deaths, OSHA and others have recommended that autopsies not be performed in COVID-19 Deaths
·        Public Health has issued guidelines for signing death certificates in these deaths
·        Report other cases, as per usual, to the Medical Examiner such as drug overdoses, and motor vehicle collision deaths

Family Members:

·        OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends that autopsies not be performed on people who are known to have died from COVID-19, such as people who die in the hospital and have a positive COVID-19 test
·        The Medical Examiner does not perform COVID-19 testing on every deceased person
·        Like all physicians, the Medical Examiners are screening dead persons by obtaining information about their symptoms before death: (fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and other flu-like symptoms)
·        Medical Examiners investigate deaths that occur in private residences.  If a person dies at home and has symptoms typical of COVID-19, testing for Coronavirus may be performed
·        Medical Examiners primarily are involved with deaths that are suicides, homicides, or accidents.  Natural deaths, such as COVID-19 deaths ordinarily are not under Medical Examiner jurisdiction
·        During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Medical Examiners in Spokane are assisting the county in providing extra storage of bodies, and in helping to determine if deaths in the community are COVID-19 related

Nursing Homes:


·        Do not report all of your deaths to the Medical Examiner during the pandemic
·        In patients who are known to have COVID-19, because of a positive test, the death does can be reported to the Medical Examiner, but ordinarily the Medical Examiner will release jurisdiction
·        All such deaths (positive for COVID-19) are to be reported to the Spokane Regional Health District at (509) 324-1500
·        It is presumed that since Nursing Home patients have a physician of record, that physician will sign the death certificate
·        During the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to report deaths to the Medical Examiner as per routine, reporting accidents, and other non-natural deaths
·        For deaths that are suspected, but undiagnosed COVID-19 deaths, with typical symptoms, call the Medical Examiner for advice