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Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

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Statutes and Regulations that Govern the OCME

DC ST § 5-1405

The CME, other medical examiners, and medicolegal investigators (physician assistants or advanced practice registered nurses) licensed under subchapter V of Chapter 12 of Title 3, are authorized to make determinations of death.

Pursuant to regulations established by the Mayor, the following types of human deaths occurring in the District of Columbia shall be investigated by the OCME:

  1. Violent deaths, whether apparently homicidal, suicidal or accidental including deaths due to thermal, chemical, electrical or radiation injury and deaths due to criminal abortion, whether apparently self-induced or not;
  2. Sudden, unexpected or unexplained deaths not caused by readily recognizable disease, including sudden infant deaths or apparent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) for infants one year of age and younger;
  3. Deaths under suspicious circumstances;
  4. Deaths of persons, whose bodies are to be cremated, dissected, buried at sea or otherwise disposed of so as to be thereafter unavailable for examination;
  5. Deaths related to disease resulting from employment or on-the-job injury or illness;
  6. Deaths related to disease, which might constitute a threat to public health;
  7. Deaths of persons who are wards of the District of Columbia government;
  8. Deaths related to medical or surgical intervention, including operative, peri-operative, anesthesia, medication reactions or deaths associated with diagnostic or therapeutic procedures;
  9. Deaths of persons while in legal custody of the District;
  10. Fetal deaths related to maternal trauma including substance abuse, and extra-mural deliveries;
  11. Deaths for which the Metropolitan Police Department, or other law enforcement agency, or the United States Attorney's Office requests, or a court orders investigation; and
  12. Dead bodies brought within the District of Columbia without proper medical certification.
  13. Clearances by the CME shall be required for all deaths occurring in the District of Columbia for which cremations are requested regardless of where the cremation will occur.