Medical Examiner's Unit
The Delaware Medical Examiner is responsible for investigating and certifying the cause and manner of death of individuals dying within the State of Delaware. The Medical Examiner functions under guidelines set forth by the Delaware Statute: Title 29, Chapter 47 - Forensic Science. Deaths investigated by the Medical Examiner include: all non-natural and violent deaths, death directly related to employment, drug related deaths, in-custody deaths and unexplained death in healthy adults and children, deaths in which there is no physician to certify death, death under suspicious circumstances, unidentified and decomposed remains, and deaths constituting a threat to public health.
The Medical Examiner Unit is housed in the Division of Forensic Science, located in Wilmington, which serves primarily New Castle County. The Medical Examiner Unit has a smaller facility in Georgetown that serves Kent and Sussex Counties. The entire unit is staffed by four forensic pathologists that comprise the Chief Medical Examiner, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner and two Assistant Medical Examiners. The Unit has a combined staff of 21 full time and seasonal employees. Members of the Unit are responsible for investigating, examining, documenting, reporting, and safeguarding information on over 1800 reports of death annually. The Unit has 11 medicolegal death investigators that are responsible for receiving death notifications, determining jurisdictions and performing scene investigations. Each year, the pathologists perform a total of approximately 850 to 900 post mortem examinations, and approve approximately 2900 requests for cremations. The Unit receives approximately 900 requests for records annually from next of kin, as well as various organizations such as Attorney General’s office, law enforcement, other state and local and federal agencies, insurance companies and private law firms.
The Medical Examiner’s Unit is fully accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners, and undergoes annual review to maintain accreditation. Our most recent inspection was in December of 2014 and our current accreditation will end in January of 2019.
The pathologists work with the Office of the Attorney General to provide testimony as expert witness on criminal cases. The pathologists and medicolegal death investigators are also involved in various education programs and death review teams held throughout the State.