Difference Between Coroner and Medical Examiner (With Table)

A Coroner and Medical Examiner investigate the death which is sudden and its cause is initially not known. They determine and summarize the reason behind the death and categorize them accordingly. In death certification, Coroner and Medical Examiner are responsible for determining the cause of death.

A Coroner vs A Medical Examiner

The difference between a Coroner and a Medical Examiner is that they differ in their educational qualification requirements. An autopsy is performed only by the Medical Examiner, which is denied for a Coroner. The appointment method differs when it is done for a Medical Examiner.

A Coroner is a person who is not expected to have an intense medical background. The reason behind the requirement of less medical background is that Coroner’s job and profile require less knowledge of medical education, but few basic knowledge on anatomy, physiology, and information gathering would help.

A Medical Examiner would require knowledge of medical education and fellowship in forensic pathology. They are appointed, unlike a Coroner. A physician is usually qualified for the profile of a Medical Examiner. A Medical Examiner performs an autopsy. They require licenses and certification to perform specific operations assigned to them.

Comparison Table Between A Coroner and A Medical Examiner

Parameters of ComparisonA CoronerA Medical Examiner
DefinitionA Coroner knew as a Crowner is a person who is elected or appointed to investigate the cause of death of a person in the coroner jurisdiction.A Medical Examiner is the person who is appointed to examine the cause of death of the person with forensic pathological experience.
Educational RequirementsA Coroner is required to know anatomy, physiology, information gathering, rules of evidence, investigation techniques. A Medical Examiner is required to have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in medicine, pathology residency, and fellowship in forensic pathology, along with certification and licensure.
AutopsyA Coroner does not perform an autopsy. A Medical Examiner performs Autopsy.
PathologistA Coroner need not be a pathologist.A Medical Examiner requires to be a pathologist or a forensic pathologist.
Appointment procedureA Coroner is either elected or appointed.A Medical Examiner is not elected but appointed.

Who is A Coroner?

The coroner is a systematic procedure which is dated back to the 12th century. A Coroner is also known as A Crowner. A Coroner is responsible for investigating the death and providing the statement of death during the Coroner’s jurisdiction. It was introduced in the 16th century in England.

A Coroner dwells upon the death of a person, which is unknown, or it might be violent, suicide, or unnatural death. A Coroner is an official and authorized person who is either elected or appointed for the job profile. They do not perform an autopsy, but rather they investigate the nature of the death caused.

A Coroner is required to know anatomy, physiology, investigation methods and techniques, rules of evidence, interviewing principles, and basic medical terminology. In-depth medical knowledge is not required to become a Coroner, as it is not required in their day-to-day work and operations.

A Coroner needs to clear the POST examination which is conducted in jurisdictions with a minimum standard of becoming a peace officer. They would require a bachelor’s degree in criminology, anatomy, pathology, physiology, forensic science, and basic medicine.

Who is A Medical Examiner?

A Medical Examiner is a position that was introduced in the 18th century. They are required when there arises a need for a well-trained physician who would help in determining the cause of death. They are employed and appointed by state, local or central government bodies.

A Medical Examiner performs autopsies, general clinical tests, and involve in the investigation of violent or unnatural death. They would start their career path as a trainee and then as a pathologist. They would require a fellowship as forensic pathologists.

A Medical Examiner has a long journey in the educational pathway. They are required to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the medical field, to get experienced as a pathologist, and get a fellowship in forensic pathology. To gain a certificate and licensure, with a broad certification along with mandatory professional skills.

A Medical Examiner is appointed by the state, local or central authorities who are well-trained and experienced as a physician. They are not elected. They perform the autopsy and require a medical background. They issue death certificates.

Main Differences Between A Coroner and A Medical Examiner

  1. A Coroner is one who requires proper medical educational background, whereas a Medical Examiner is one who requires proper medical knowledge with degrees and certifications.
  2. A Coroner does not perform autopsies, whereas a Medical Examiner is required to perform autopsies. The ability to perform autopsy depends on the qualification and skills that are required to perform the autopsy.
  3. A Coroner is either elected or appointed by state and central authorities, whereas a Medical Examiner is appointed by the central authorities.
  4. A Coroner does not require to be a pathologist whereas a Medical Examiner is required to be a physician or a pathologist. A Coroner is not required to be a forensic pathologist which is not in the case of a Medical Examiner.
  5. A Coroner is responsible for providing death certification, carrying investigation, and gathering information, whereas a Medical Examiner is one who has to dwell upon the cause of the death and determine the nature of death as well.

Conclusion

A Coroner and a Medical Examiner both are involved in the process of finding the cause of the death which is unknown or unnatural. They may be due to accidents, suicide, or violence, which needs to be investigated in detail. Both the Coroner as well as the Medical Examiner need to be well-trained and experienced in pathology and anatomy.

A Coroner and a Medical Examiner are appointed by state and central authorities. They require different educational requirements and certifications, a Coroner needs to get qualified in POST examination to enter the basic level of their career path as a Coroner, whereas a Medical Examiner needs to gain a degree and fellowship in the specified fields.

Refrences

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/187352
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/187352
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