Cases That Must Be Reported
Deaths meeting the requisite criteria must be immediately reported to the Medical Examiner. In the event that the injury causing the death occurred in another county, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner must be notified and would refer the case investigation to the outside county.
All physicians and other persons having knowledge of the death of any person who has died under any of the following circumstances shall immediately report such death to the Medical Examiner:
- All deaths in which there are unexplained, unusual or suspicious circumstances
- All homicides, suicides, accidents or unnatural deaths
- All deaths due to poisoning or overdose, whether homicidal, suicidal or accidental
- All deaths following accidents, whether the injury is or was not the primary cause of death (examples: quadriplegia due to trauma or an accident)
- When there is no physician or accredited practitioner, who has attended or treated the decedent within 30 days preceding death
- When the physician caring for the decedent refuses to sign the death certificate
- All deaths that occur in a hospital emergency room setting
- Maternal deaths due to abortion
- Deaths of inmates of public institutions, who have not been hospitalized for organic illness
- Deaths of persons in custody of law enforcement officers
- 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
- Deaths of persons in which a non-pathological fracture of a major bone (femur, tibia, pelvis, skull, etc.) has occurred within the past six months
- Deaths following traumatic head bleeds
- 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
- Any death in which there is doubt as to whether it is a Medical Examiner's case should be reported and discussed with a Medical Examiner's Forensic Investigator
- Sudden and unexpected deaths occurring in infants or children under the age of 2, under circumstances not explained by a pre-existing medical problem, must be referred to the Medical Examiner
When a death falls into any of the above categories, an individual connected with the case should promptly notify the Medical Examiner's Office by telephone (414) 223-1200. When reporting a case, have the following information available: name, address, age, sex, race, marital status, next of kin, summary of history, physical findings, name of last attending physician and other pertinent clinical data.
Although the above cases must be reported, the Medical Examiner has the authority to accept or decline jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis. the jurisdiction is declined, the attending physician signs the death certificate and the disposition of the body is the responsibility of the next of kin.
Under no circumstances should clothing or effects be handled or disturbed prior to the examination of the body; or the scene altered, including moving weapons, items near the body, or to perform diagnostic examination, except by specific authorization of the Medical Examiner's Office. The body must be maintained in its original state. Personal effects and clothing obtained in emergency room situations must be meticulously protected, saved and released to Medical Examiner or law enforcement personnel.
The body may not be released to anyone other than Medical Examiner personnel, unless so authorized by the Medical Examiner.
When a death in a Medical Examiner's case occurs in a local hospital, a Medical Examiner pathologist will perform the autopsy, if required, at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office. In some cases, the Medical Examiner will conclude that a forensic autopsy is not required for the investigation. In such cases, performance of an autopsy by a hospital pathologist may be permitted if valid autopsy consent is obtained.
The Medical Examiner's Office must be contacted prior to the removal of any organs or tissues from cases that fall within the Medical Examiner's jurisdiction.
Next of kin should be directed to call the Medical Examiner's Office, (414) 223-1200 for more informtion on circumstances of death and concerns about personal effects.
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