What We Do
- Promote and maintain the highest professional standards in the field of death investigation
- Provide timely, accurate and legally defensible determinations as to the cause and manner of death
- Enhance public health and safety through reducing the incidence or preventable deaths
- Foster public awareness and support the advancement of professional medical and legal education
- Protect the interests of deceased individuals, their loved ones and the communities we serve
Forensic Fellowship Program
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office offers a Forensic Pathology Fellowship in conjunction with the Medical College of Wisconsin.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office investigates approximately 7,000 deaths and performs autopsies for Milwaukee, Jefferson, Kenosha, Racine and Ozaukee counties. The office is located downtown, close to the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
Our ACGME-accredited fellowship program provides one year of in-depth training in forensic pathology. The forensic pathology fellow conducts a substantial number of medicolegal autopsies on routine and unusual cases, and is given substantial control of cases (natural, accidental, suicidal, and homicidal) at all levels, commensurate with their increasing ability.
Training during the year includes rotations in toxicology, forensic anthropology, forensic odontology and the laboratories of the Milwaukee branch of the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory. The trainee is afforded opportunities to testify in court and is encouraged to witness testimony by others who are experienced in courtroom dialogue.
In our office, consultations are presented to the senior pathologists for review and advice. The fellow is allowed to actively participate in these interesting consultations. In addition, the fellow will be involved in didactic teaching and should be a participant in the annual Medicolegal Death Investigation seminar conducted for investigators and law enforcement personnel. The trainee is strongly encouraged to participate in research.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office accepts one fellow per academic year. Applicants must have completed training in either anatomic pathology or combined clinical and anatomic pathology in an ACGME-accredited residency program by the beginning of the fellowship year. Applicants are selected for interviews, following review of their completed application. The interview process takes place in the fall of each year.
Complete an Application
Frequently Asked Questions
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Why is the Medical Examiner's office involved?
Pursuant to Wisconsin State Statute 979.01, the Medical Examiner's Office is required to investigate deaths that fall into the following categories:
- All deaths in which there are unexplained, unusual or suspicious circumstances.
- Maternal deaths following abortion.
- Deaths due to poisoning, whether homicidal, suicidal or accidental.
- Deaths following accidents, whether the injury is or is not the primary cause of death.
- When there was no physician or accredited practitioner in attendance within 30 days preceding death.
- When a physician refuses to sign or is unable to sign the death certificate.
- Deaths of inmates of public institutions, who have not been hospitalized for organic illness.
- Deaths that occur in association with, or as a result of diagnostic, therapeutic, or anesthetic procedures.
- Deaths due to neglect.
- Fetus of 20 weeks or older, unattended by a physician or practitioner.
- Sudden deaths of persons not disabled by recognizable disease processes, in which a fracture of a major bone (femur, humerus, or tibia) has occurred within the past six months.
- Deaths occurring outside of a hospital or nursing home, and not enrolled in a palliative care program under the care of a physician.
- Occupational related deaths attributable entirely or in part to external work place factors.
- Sudden and unexpected deaths occuring in infants or children under the age of 2, under circumstances not explained by a pre-existing medical problem.
Will an autopsy be performed?
An autopsy will be performed when there is a need to establish or confirm a cause and manner of death for the purpose of issuing a death certificate, in cases involving criminal or suspected criminal wrongdoing, and in any case in which an autopsy is considered to be prudent at the Medical Examiner's discretion.
Will I be able to view the body at the Medical Examiner's Office?
The Medical Examiner's Office is not designed to accommodate viewing. Arrangements can be made at the funeral home for viewing.
Will I be charged for Medical Examiner services/reports?
Starting in 2010, a charge of $150 will be assessed for each body transported to the Medical Examiner's office by our transport service. There is no fee for the autopsy and the resultant medical opinion regarding cause and manner of death. One copy of the investigator's report, autopsy report, and toxicology report ( when applicable) will be made available to the nearest next-of-kin at no cost, once the case is closed. There is a per page charge for all subsequent requests. Please see the Medical Examiner's website for the form used to requests reports, or call the office.
What should I do after being made aware of the death, and the involvement of the Medical Examiner?
Select a funeral home and advise the funeral director of the involvement of the Medical Examiner's Office. Funeral directors are familiar with the operation of our office, and will assist you in making all arrangements for final disposition, including obtaining the death certificate. The funeral director will also pick up the decedent's personal property that is not being held as evidence. Often the deceased will be released the next day from our facility.
When will I be able to obtain a death certificate?
The death certificate should be completed within five to six days of notification of the death. The death certification is given to the Medical Examiner's Office by the funeral home for completion so it is important that a funeral home be selected. Arrangements to obtain certified copies of the death certificate are handled for the family by the funeral home.
Note: On occasion, an exact cause or manner of death is not immediately determined following an autopsy or investigation. Special laboratory tests or further investigation may be necessary. As a result, there are occasions when a death certificate may not be available for eight to 10 weeks, or longer. In those situations, a pending death certificate will be filed within 10 to 12 days of death, and later replaced with an amended death certificate once the cause and/or manner of death has been established.
Death Certificate: $153
Cremation Permit: $357
Disinterment Permit: $50
Daily Body Storage: $35
Body Transport: $153
The fee increases for 2018 reflect a 2.1% increase in the annual percentage change in the U.S. Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers, U.S. city average as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor, as allowed in Wisconsin State Statute 59.365. The new fee increases are effective January 1, 2018.
A new fee for transporting bodies to our office was adopted in the 2010 budget process. The fee is $153 for each body transported to our office by our transport service. This fee will not be charged for bodies transported to our office by ambulances or funeral homes.
Fees are payable upon receipt of Milwaukee County Medical Examiner monthly invoice, or at time of service.
In the case of Milwaukee County indigent burial program cases, a copy of the signed authorization from Milwaukee County Department of Human Services is required to waive the fees.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office issues an annual report detailing the activities of the office.