Pursuant to the provisions of section 8.08 of the Rensselaer County Charter and section 400 Article 17A of the County Law of the State of New York, the Medical Examiner program is administered by the Department of Health.
The Rensselaer County Medical Examiner is a licensed physician and a board certified Forensic Pathologist with specialized training in the medical legal investigation of death. With the evaluation and documentation of all injuries in the deceased and also live victim cases of abuse, the medical examiner provides accurate data that can be utilized by the health department and court system. The duty of the medical examiner is to investigator sudden, suspicious and violent deaths occurring within the county.
Causes and Manners of Death falling under the jurisdiction of the Rensseleaer County Medical Examiner:
- Accidental deaths (including hip fx or other injuries that could contribute to or cause a delayed death of an individual under medical or supportive care
- Any blunt force trauma or mechanical injury
- Asphyxiation: foreign substance (food), ligature, drowning or chemical fume
- Burning: Fire, liquid, chemical, radiation, electricity, lighting
- Child / Infant: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome S.I.D.S.
- Cutting and stabbings
- Drug overdose: medication, chemical, poison, narcotic, alcoholic substance (actual or suspected)
- Firearm related deaths
- Issues of communicable disease and public health as required
- Jail, confinement or custody
- Occupational injuries resulting in an immediate or delayed death
- Stillborn / newborn: traumatic event or drug intoxication
- Sudden unexpected and/or un-witnessed deaths in previously healthy individuals
- Vehicular accidents: auto, bus, train, motorcycle, bicycle, ATV, tractor, watercraft, snowmobile, aircraft
- Weather related: lightning, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, drowning
Office of the Medical Examiner’s Jurisdiction
Medico-Legal Death Investigators (MLDI’s) are on-call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and work under the general direction of the Chief Medical Examiner. MLDI’s are certified by NYSACCME (New York State Association of County Coroners and Medical Examiners) and in the process of pursuing National Certification through St. Louis University Death Investigation Program. MLDI’s are trained in scene response to interpret deaths by determining as to whether a death is an actual Medical Examiners Case. They are also trained in securing the decedent and related specimens on scene for further testing. MLDI’s provide documentation, obtain medical records, contact primary care providers and next of kin of the deceased and secure the decedent in conjunction with the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction. These investigators are a contact for families to obtain information and status of autopsy arrangements and autopsy/toxicology report status. They also provide and arrange for transportation of the deceased to facilitate further examination.
AUTOPSY SERVICES / POLICY
An objection to an autopsy based on religious beliefs will be considered except in cases of homicide or when public health is in question. If the case is not taken as a medical examiner case there is always the option of a private autopsy to be done at the family’s expense.
To obtain a copy of a final autopsy report the spouse, next of kin or legal representative of the deceased must send a notarized release form with appropriate identification.
PDF of release form
Rensselaer Medical Examiner Office
County Office Building
Troy, NY 12182
Once a person has been pronounced dead at home, hospitals, and nursing homes or out door scenes, Funeral Directors are required by law to file a death certificate within 72 hours with the Registrar’s Office in the municipality in which the death has occurred in.
In some medical examiner cases, the cause and manner of death on the original death certificate are listed “Pending Further Studies” or “Pending Investigation”. An autopsy diagnosis may be “pended” to allow for a variety of additional tests including but not limited to toxicology testing, microscopic examination and microbiological testing. A case may also be signed as “pending” in order to collect and evaluated other investigation materials, medical history and information surrounding the individual’s death. When the medical examiner’s investigation is concluded, an amended death certificate is issued to the registrar’s office. To obtain an original copy of the amended death certificate, please contact the registrar’s office in the municipality in which the death occurred in.
Disaster Preparedness and Mass Fatality Response
The medical examiner’s office works closely with a multitude of county and private agencies on plans to formulate a rapid response to unexpected emergencies of any kind and size. These plans are upgraded and reviewed regularly for the safety of the counties citizens. Regular trainings are held to ensure a level of responder awareness and safety is maintained.
The medical examiner’s office is available for educational lectures on our department operations for specific audiences only. To inquire more information please contact RCDOH (518) 270-2626.