The administration personnel of the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office are responsible for the forensic administrative functions of the office. Our staff prepares payroll, maintain accounts payable and receivable, and handles the release of information to families, agencies, and hospitals. The transcriptionist types the autopsy reports for forensic pathologists, fellows, and residents. Administrative personnel also fulfill requests for autopsy and other reports by law enforcement agencies, media requests, families and attorneys, and perform filing and other receptionist duties. Administrative personnel enter data into the computer from the investigator’s intake form, the doctor’s information, death certificate, autopsy, and toxicology findings on each case. All case files pass through this office several times during processing, and the administrative staff ensures the files are complete and accurate. The receptionist provides information to callers or visitors regarding office policies and procedures, death certificates, and burial handling. Additional duties include notary duties, making notification of Child Fatality Review Board and to Kansas City Health Department on heat and cold related deaths. Prerequisites for forensic administration include forensic and medical terminology, clerical typing skills and ability to handle distraught families with compassion and empathy.
General hours of operation for our administrative office are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The main administration phone number is 816-881-6600.
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The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office (JCMEO) is the only National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) Accredited Medical Examiner’s Office in the State of Missouri and staffed with Board Certified Forensic Pathologists, Board Certified or Registered Medicolegal Death Investigators, Forensic Technicians and trained Administrative Staff who handle transcription, death certificates, case files and medical records. The JCMEO works closely with the local organ procurement organization MTN, and assists families with the recovery of organ and tissue donations. Services offered by the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office include expert pathology examination, death scene investigations, medical records review, family interviews, locating next of kin, court testimony, body examinations and, police and attorney consultations. Toxicology, Radiology, and Histology are also services that are provided during a death investigation. JCMEO also works closely with the Child Death Review Board with the documentation of all child deaths. Additional services provided include expert Forensic Anthropology, Odontology, Neuropathology, and Cardiac Pathology consultations. The JCMEO also tracks all Hospice and Nursing Home deaths that occur in Jackson County and the 3 other contracted counties. The JCMEO also has 24/7 telephone coverage by trained death investigators with prompt contract transportation services, and death scene investigation. Completion of autopsy reports and death certificates are within a timely manner.
Handling of Mass Fatalities that occur in Jackson, Platte, Clay, and Cass Counties is yet another one of Jackson County Medical Examiner’s many responsibilities. A Mass Fatality Incident is described as any occurrence of multiple deaths that overwhelms the usual routine capacity of the Medical Examiner or Coroner. Recent events and the emergent threat of continued terrorist activity emphasize the need for public-sector agencies to plan for a coordinated response to a mass fatality event. Agencies small and large, urban and rural, need to be prepared for an event that will exceed their operations capacity. Medical Examiners are responsible for processing and identifying the victims of the incident at a temporary morgue site if needed, locating and corresponding with family members of the victims through the family assistance center, assisting with recovery of bodies at the incident site, and participating in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to update information regarding recovery efforts. ( For additional information see the Mass Fatality Management and KCRMORG tab.)
JCMEO is a state-of- the- art resource for the Kansas City, MO Metro area and also provides referral autopsy service to assist 22 counties in Missouri.
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The Medicolegal death investigators division of the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office consists of, The Chief of Forensic Operations and Investigations, Deputy Chief Investigator, and eight full-time Death Investigators. The scope of work in this unit is to investigate circumstances surrounding deaths under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner’s Office. The office is staffed 24/7 by death investigators.
Investigators respond promptly to all death scenes as indicated except for home hospice deaths and conduct an independent and thorough investigation into circumstances of death. The investigator interviews witnesses, relatives and other persons to obtain pertinent information regarding the decedent's past history to assist the Medical Examiner with determining the manner and cause of death. The investigator photographs and documents death scenes as required, obtain detailed medical history, and gathers follow-up information as needed.
The investigators are skilled and knowledgeable in performing the external body examinations, photographing the body and injuries, obtaining finger prints, and collection of specimens and evidence.
Investigators stay current on state and local laws regarding handling of human remains and work very closely with local, state, and federal agencies.
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A forensic autopsy is a series of lab tests and examinations performed on a body to identify injuries or medical conditions that may have caused or contributed to death. The autopsy includes a thorough external and internal examination of the body. It is done by a forensic pathologist – a medical doctor who has been specially trained to recognize patterns of injury, collect evidence, and investigate the circumstances surrounding a death.
A forensic autopsy involves a thorough examination of the body as well as internal structures and organs. Additionally, lab tests are performed to check for infectious diseases, alcohol, and/or drugs.
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The pathology division includes 4 board-certified forensic pathologists. The division is directed by the Chief Medical Examiner who oversees the general operation of the office in addition to the clinical forensic training program. The pathologists determine and certify cause and manner of death through review of circumstances of death, review of medical records if applicable, and examinations of the individuals. Additional duties include education and training sessions with external agencies, teaching courses at local medical schools, and providing court testimony.
All individuals who are brought to the Medical Examiner’s Office for examination will, at a minimum, be examined externally and have representative body fluids and/or tissue collected for toxicology. Fingerprinting, if applicable, and blood samples for DNA are also obtained on every individual.
In accordance with RSMo 58.725, the Medical Examiner or Deputy Medical Examiner will have the sole discretion in determining whether or not an autopsy, or an internal examination of the body and organ systems, will be performed. According to the (NAME) Forensic Autopsy Standards, the forensic pathologist shall perform a forensic autopsy on the following cases:
1.The death is known or suspected to have been caused by apparent criminal violence.
2. The death is unexpected and unexplained in an infant or child.
3. The death is associated with police action.
4. The death is apparently non-natural and in custody of a local, state, or federal institution.
5. The death is due to acute workplace injury.
6. The death is caused by apparent electrocution.
7. The death is by apparent intoxication by alcohol, drugs, or poison.
8. The death is caused by unwitnessed or suspected drowning.
9. The body is unidentified and the autopsy may aid in identification.
10. The body is skeletonized.
11. The body is charred.
12. The forensic pathologist deems a forensic autopsy is necessary to determine cause or manner of death, or document injuries/disease, or collect evidence.
13. The deceased is involved in a motor vehicle incident and an autopsy is necessary to document injuries and/or determine the cause of death.
In cases where an autopsy is not mandatory under NAME standards, the medical examiner can decide, based on circumstances and case specifics, to perform a limited dissection (partial autopsy) or an external examination. The pathologist may perform an external examination in cases involving non-suspicious natural deaths or delayed traumatic deaths. The pathologist may also perform an external examination in well-documented gunshot suicide cases if there is no projectile to recover, and in traumatic deaths wherein the cause of death is evident from external examination and/or radiographs.
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