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Data Exchange Practices of Medicolegal Death Investigation

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2022
56 pages

This report presents the opportunities and challenges of increasing standardization and automation in approaches to collecting and exchanging data among medical examiners and coroners, investigators, forensic scientists, and other medicolegal death investigation collaborators identified by the MDI-Data-WG, and identifies high-priority needs for building a foundation toward implementing best practices and standards.


This report summarizes the findings and recommendations of the Medicolegal Death Investigation Data Exchange Working Group (MDI-Data-WG) from September 2020 to September 2021, discussing the opportunities and challenges associated with increasing standardization and automation in the classification, collection, and exchange of data among medical examiners and coroners (MECs), forensic toxicologists, and other collaborators with the goal of improving workflow and efficiencies, and streamlining data requests. The objective is for this document to impact MDI and forensic science communities in the following ways: define, update, and establish the most frequently exchanged data elements that are necessary components of a comprehensive and modernized data exchange in MDI; lay the framework for how drugs are named and how these names are communicated to others; and document workflow processes, data exchange needs and processes, data standardization methods, and common language for the MDI systems and its stakeholder. The focus areas for MDI-Data-WG included: frequently used data elements, standardization of fields and element definitions to allow easy data exchange, including public health/surveillance and nonfatal data systems; taxonomy of drugs identified in fatalities, including drug toxicology taxonomies, classification needs around drug naming, terms, mappings, and classification; and forensic science data exchange, about the integration, analysis, and reporting processes between MDI offices and others who contribute to MDI data. The outputs and outcomes are summarized by focus area and structured as challenges and considerations, potential solutions, and resources. The outcomes discuss what MDI and stakeholder communities should achieve, and the outputs of the MDI-Data-WG include quantifiable actions or items that the MDI-Data-WG has documented and created as resources in order to facilitate the achievement of the goals for MDI modernization and data exchange.