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Strengthening the Medical Examiner-Coroner System Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2021
2 pages

This Fact Sheet of the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) reports on the goals, funding, awards, and success stories of BJA’s program to strengthen the medical examiner-coroner system.


This program addresses the national shortage of practicing board-certified forensic pathologists in the medicolegal death investigation (MDI) workforce. There is also variability in the practice of death investigation across the United States, resulting in an inconsistent provision of MDI services. To address these needs, BJA established in 2017 a program intended to increase the number of practicing board-certified forensic pathologists as medical examiners and coroners (ME/C). This effort also focused on the implementation of and adherence to quality standards and performance criteria needed for consistent and equitable application of death investigation services. This has been done through 1) forensic pathology fellowships; and 2) ME/C office accreditation. The amount of funding and number of awards for each of these purpose areas are reported for each of the fiscal years (FY) 2017-2020. A total of 39 fellowships have been funded, and 15 participants have completed fellowship training. A total of 2,306 deaths were investigated by program-funded fellows, and 2,217 autopsies were performed by program-funded fellows. A total of 73 individuals have sought certification with program funds, and 12 individuals have used program funds to achieve certification. “Success stories” under the program are described for the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office (Ohio) and the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office (Wisconsin). 1 table, a listing of resources, and a BJA profile