Coroner

There are currently four elected Coroners in Ontario County who perform their duties on a part-time basis.

The Ontario County Coroner is responsible for determining the cause and manner of death, when an individual in Ontario County dies outside of a hospital or hospice program. Sometimes when an individual dies in a medical setting the cause may be reported to a coroner.

Although deaths need to be reported to the Coroner, not all people who have died require further examination. If a death appears to be natural or related to natural diseases, then the body will be released to a funeral home of the families choosing.

Common situations where the Coroner takes custody of a person who has died include:
  • A young person without documented medical history.
  • A person with no legal next-of-kin or one that cannot be determined or identified during the initial investigation.
  • Any person who has died due to unnatural circumstances including:
    • Suicide
    • Homicide
    • Accident
    • Lack of Medical History

Types of Exams:


Full Autopsy

- A full autopsy is an intricate medical procedure that may take place after death. It includes examination of all major organs and documentation of injury and or disease. This is a surgical type procedure and often also requires complex laboratory testing.

Partial Autopsy

- A partial autopsy is similar to a full autopsy but is limited to a specific part of the body. In cases of head injury, the doctor may examine just the brain. In cases of heart history, only a chest exam may be performed.

External Examination

- An external examination consists of documenting the findings (including injury and or disease) on the outside of the body as well as drawing fluids for toxicology testing.

Toxicology

- Ontario County uses the Monroe County Office of the Medical Examiner as well as a certified forensics lab to do toxicology testing. This is used in conjunction with the autopsy findings in order to help the doctor determine the cause and manner of death.

Additional Testing

- Every case is different and some cases require more specialized testing. This can delay the release of the report, but is important in determining the cause and manner of death. Each case is looked at on an individual basis to determine which tests are necessary.

Autopsy Report and Death Certificate:


Autopsy Report

- The Ontario County Coroner releases a final autopsy report once the investigation and testing is completed. Some final reports can take up to five months or more to complete. However, each case is unique and the time may vary.

Obtaining a Report

- The final autopsy report is available to the legal next of kin upon notarized request. A fee is required for this service. All other parties wanting to obtain an autopsy report must present either a judicial subpoena or notarized permission from the next of kin.

Death Certificate

- A death certificate containing the cause and manner of death will accompany the body to the funeral home chosen by the family. The funeral director will submit it to the Vital Records clerk in the local clerk’s office where the death occurred.

Understanding the Cause of Death

- Families will be notified of the cause of death by the Coroner who is investigating the death. Families are encouraged to consult with their family physician to discuss the final autopsy report, if there are any other concerns relating to the cause which the physician may have knowledge.

Pending Further Investigation

- When a case requires additional testing or information, the death certificate may state “Pending Investigation.” This means that more time is needed to determine what happened. When the determination has been made, an amended death certificate will be completed.