A Typical Investigation

A typical sequence of events in a Spokane Medical Examiner Death Investigation is as follows:
  1. Death is pronounced at the scene by paramedics.
  2. Law enforcement is contacted; they secure the scene and perform an initial investigation. Law enforcement contacts the Medical Examiner Investigator on duty.
  3. The Medical Examiner Investigator arrives on scene and determines the circumstances surrounding death. He/she takes custody of the decedent's personal property. The body is examined, and photographed, then sealed in a body bag with a tamper-proof seal, in front of witnesses. The investigator speaks to family members and provides a Medical Examiner Pamphlet, the pamphlet answers typical family questions.
  4. If not at the death scene, next-of-kin is located and informed of the death.
  5. The Medical Examiner Transport service takes the body to the secure Medical Examiner autopsy facility. The body is "signed in" with witnesses and placed in a large refrigerated room to retard decomposition.
  6. If an autopsy is to be performed, the body is weighed, and taken to the examination room; the evidence seal on the body bag is broken in the presence of witnesses. After the autopsy, the body is respectfully covered, and the funeral home the family has selected is contacted to allow for pick-up of the body and transportation to the mortuary.
  7. The cause of death and manner of death are listed on the death certificate, the funeral home files the certificate with the local office of the State Vital Records Department. If the death certificate cannot be accurately completed on the day of autopsy, due to a need for further testing, the death certificate is completed as "pending" so that no disposition delay need occur.
  8. Microscopic slides and additional test results are analyzed and the autopsy report is completed.
  9. The Medical Examiner Investigators and Staff are available at all stages of this process to discuss findings with family members and assist families as needed.