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      MEDICAL EXAMINER  
Forensic Divisions

Administration Operations Investigations Autopsy Pathology 

Administration

The administrative office is responsible for a variety of tasks including typical functions such as payroll, purchasing, billing, reception, scheduling and record keeping.  Additionally, the administrative staff handles all of the transcribing and dictation, special projects such as the yearly budget and annual report, and Notary Public duties.  This department is also responsible for tracking and reporting statistics to various agencies such as SIDS, DAWN, Consumer Products, Highway Patrol, STAT, and Health Departments.

A big part of the day to day responsibilities of this office include processing death certificates and addressing records requests from attorneys, families, law enforcement and various other agencies such as MTN, Child Fatality Review Board, local eye banks and hospitals.  All case files pass through this office several times during processing and the administrative staff ensures the files are complete and accurate.

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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Operations 

The Jackson County Medical Examiners Office is the only NAME Accredited Medical Examiners Office in the State of Missouri and staffed with Board Certified Forensic Pathologists, Board Certified or Registered Medical Legal Death Investigators, Forensic Technicians and trained Administrative Staff which handles Pathologists dictation, death certificates, case files and medical records.  The JCMEO is closely associated with Midwest Transplant Network and assists families with the recovery of organ and tissue donations.  Services offered by the Jackson County Medical Examiners Office include expert pathology examination, death scene investigations, medical records review, family interviews, locating next of kin, court testimony, body examinations, police and attorney consultations.  Toxicology, Radiology, 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 Anthropology, Odontology workups for cases that identification cannot be made by normal means.  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, prompt contract transportation services, death scene investigation and completion of autopsy reports and death certificates within a timely manner    

The JCMEO is also responsible for the handling of Mass Fatalities that occur in Jackson, Platte, Clay and Cass Counties   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 dealing with family members of the victims through the family assistance center, assisting with recovery of bodies at the incident site and participating in the EOC to update information regarding recovery efforts.

JCMEO is a state of the art resource for the Kansas City Metro area and also provides referral autopsy service to assist 22 counties in Missouri.

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Investigations 

The Investigations Unit of the Jackson County Medical Examiners Office is a 24/7 operation and consists of 8 full time Investigators, a Deputy Chief Investigator and the Chief of Forensic Operations and Investigations.  The scope of work in this unit is to investigate the scene and circumstances surrounding deaths coming under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner’s Office. 

Investigators respond promptly to death scenes 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 and obtain detailed medical history and follow-up information as needed including but not limited to medical records and police reports.  Investigators gather additional data as requested by the Medical Examiner and are skilled and knowledgeable in performing external body examinations and collection of evidence.  Investigators may be called upon to testify in court proceedings.  Investigators are familiar and utilize personal protection equipment during hazardous environments and work during inclement weather and stressful circumstances.   The Investigators are exposed to decomposed bodies, contagious diseases, and other hazards.  Investigators are trained to assist in mass fatalities in scene investigation, morgue operations, administration, and the family assistance center.  Investigators have knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy may also assist with autopsies when called upon by the Pathologist.

Investigators also stay current on state and local laws regarding deaths handling of human remains.  The Investigation Unit also works very closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies concerning deaths that occur under the jurisdiction of the Jackson County Medical Examiners Office.

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Autopsy

The autopsy service at the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office includes a complete external examination including photography, fingerprinting, evidence collection and recording of associated property. The internal examination includes examination of major organs and the collection of representative tissue samples for histology and body fluids for toxicology.

The forensic technicians are responsible for dissection, under pathologist supervision, maintenance of equipment and supplies, recordkeeping during the autopsy, collection of toxicology specimens, and preparing the body for discharge to the funeral home. The forensic technicians assist in photography and provide support as needed to the dentist or anthropologist.

As a facility accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners, a forensic autopsy will be performed when:

  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 un-witnessed 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 collect evidence.

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Pathology 

The pathology division is run by board certified forensic pathologist directed by the Chief Medical Examiner who oversees the general operation, Deputy Medical Examiner, and clinical forensic training program.  The pathologists determine cause and manner of death through external examinations, autopsies and records review of cases that come under our jurisdiction.  Other duties include signing the death certificates, participating with external agencies and providing court testimony.

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