Why is the Medical Examiner's Office involved?

Pursuant to Wisconsin State Statute 979.01, the Medical Examiner's Office is required to investigate deaths that fall into the following categories:

  • All deaths in which there are unexplained, unusual or suspicious circumstances
  • Homicides
  • Suicides
  • Maternal deaths following abortion
  • Deaths due to poisoning, whether homicidal, suicidal, or accidental
  • Deaths following accidents, whether the injury is or is not the primary cause of death
  • When there was no physician or accredited practitioner in attendance within 30 days preceding death
  • When a physician refuses to sign or is unable to sign the death certificate
  • Deaths of inmates of public institutions, who have not been hospitalized for organic illness
  • Deaths that occur in association with or as a result of diagnostic, therapeutic, or anesthetic procedures
  • Deaths due to neglect
  • Fetus of 20 weeks or older, unattended by a physician or practitioner
  • Sudden deaths of persons not disabled by recognizable disease processes, in which a fracture of a major bone (femur, humerus, or tibia) has occurred within the past six months
  • Deaths occurring outside of a hospital or nursing home, and not enrolled in a palliative care program under the care of a physician
  • Occupational related deaths attributable entirely or in part to external workplace factors
  • Sudden and unexpected deaths occurring in infants or children under the age of 2, under circumstances not explained by a pre-existing medical problem

Show All Answers

1. What do I do next?
2. Why is the Medical Examiner's Office involved?
3. Will I be able to view the body at the Medical Examiner's Office?
4. What is an autopsy?
5. Will an autopsy be performed?
6. Will an autopsy affect funeral arrangements?
7. Will I have to pay for an autopsy?
8. Who can I speak to about a death investigation?
9. How can I find out about the cause of death?
10. How can I retrieve my loved one's personal possessions?
11. When will my loved one's body be released?
12. How long does it take to get the results of the postmortem examination/ investigation?
13. How can I obtain a copy of the death certificate?
14. Can a "pending" death certificate be used as proof of death?
15. What if the funeral is being held out of state?
16. What is a Medical Examiner?