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medical examiner

Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A physician, usually a pathologist, who is officially authorized to determine the cause of suspicious or unusual deaths.
  • noun A physician who performs physical examinations to determine whether people are healthy enough to perform certain roles, such as military service, or whether people qualify for life insurance or disability compensation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A medico who examines suspiciously dead bodies on behalf of the government.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a public official who investigates by inquest any death not due to natural causes

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  • Pathologists study the causes and effects of human disease and injury: all sorts of disease, all manner of injury, in every part of the human body. . . .

    A forensic pathologist is a specialist in this branch of medicine who investigates sudden, unexpected, or violent deaths by visiting the scene, reviewing medical records, and performing an autopsy—all while collecting evidence that might be used in court. Like a clinical pathologist, she has to recognize what everything in the body looks like, but the forensic pathologist also has to understand how it all works. She has to know how all the things that go wrong with the body can kill you, and all the ways that trying to fix those things might also kill you. . . .

    Forensic pathologists work for either a medical examiner's office or a coroner. The latter is an administrator or law enforcement official (often the sheriff) who investigates untimely deaths in his or her jurisdiction. The coroner hires doctors to perform autopsies, but these doctors usually don't play an active role in the investigation beyond their work in the morgue. A medical examiner is a physician trained specifically in death investigation and autopsy pathology, who performs both the prosection (Latin for "cutting apart") and all other aspects of the official inquiry. The ME is always a doctor and often trains other doctors as well, in a one-year fellowship program that follows four years of residence training in hospital pathology

    Judy Melinek, M.D. & T.J. Mitchell, Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner (New York: Scribner: 2014), pp. 13-14 (emphasis added).

    March 9, 2016