What is a Medical Examiner?

In the state of Wisconsin, each county individually chooses between one of two death investigation systems: a Coroner system or a Medical Examiner system. Both systems have the same authority under Wisconsin state statute.

A Coroner system is supervised by a 'Coroner' who is elected. Coroners in the state of Wisconsin are not required to be physicians. 

A Medical Examiner system is one in which the office is supervised by a 'Medical Examiner,' who is a county official appointed by the County Executive and/or the County Board of Supervisors. In the state of Wisconsin, a Medical Examiner is not required to be a physician. Kenosha County operates as a Medical Examiner system.

An important goal of the death investigation system is to determine the cause and manner of death. The cause of death is any injury or disease that alters one's physiology sufficiently to result in death - for example, a gunshot wound, coronary heart disease or cancer. The manner of death explains how the cause came about and may be categorized as natural, accident, suicide, homicide or in some cases, "undetermined." Typically, the cause of death is determined via autopsy. While the manner of death is based on an investigation.

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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?