Medical Examiner Homepage

Commissioner Andrew Haggerty Chief Medical Examiner
Mario A Rascon, MD, MHCM.

Irene Santiago
Chief of Operations

Contact Information

4505 Alberta Avenue
El Paso, Texas 79905
Phone (915) 532-1447
Fax: (915) 532-6630
Contact us


The National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) Accreditation Program has the explicit purpose of improving the quality of the forensic/medicolegal investigation of death. Accreditation is an endorsement by NAME that the office provides an adequate environment in which a forensic pathologist may practice the profession, and provides reasonable assurances that the system well serves its jurisdiction


The OME hours of operation are 08:00 am – 05:00 pm, Monday through Friday. The OME is closed on all El Paso County holidays .
He/She will be taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner, 4505 Alberta Avenue, El Paso, Texas 79905.
The Office of the Medical Examiner is governed by a specific set of laws called the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, specifically Article 49.25 Medical Examiners are given also give all the rights and powers of a Justice of the Peace and those laws and duties apply as well. The following cases must be reported to our office:

- Deaths within 24 hours of admission to a hospital, nursing home or institution
- Unattended deaths (including at home)
- When a person is killed
- When a person is found and the circumstances of death are unknown
- When it is believed that the death of the individual came about by unlawful means
- When the death suspected to be a suicide
No. Direct visual identification is not necessary and exceedingly rare. However if the decedent arrives as an unidentified, we may resort to other means of visual identification (photographs of clothing/property, identifying marks, etc.)
No. Viewing is not permitted.
The Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy when there is a need to establish the cause and manner of death. It is the Medical Examiner's decision only.
If there were no injuries before the autopsy, Yes. The incisions from the autopsy are easily covered by clothing.
The Medical Examiners make every effort to comply with family wishes for organ and tissue donation. To donate organs, the person must still be on life support and at a hospital. However, for tissue donation--corneas, heart valves, skin, bone etc.- the tissue is harvested after death and some tissue can be harvested as late as 24 hours following death.
You need to select a funeral home. The funeral home will have you sign a release form so that they can pick up your loved one when we are finished with the exam. The funeral home will contact us directly and we will let them know when the person is ready.
Usually less than 24 hours. However, there are cases that can take longer or a high volume of cases may delay the examination.
If the next-of-kin is present at the time of death, the medical investigator will release the property there. Otherwise, the property is brought to the office and maintained for safe keeping until they are released to the next of kin.
You may obtain a copy of the autopsy report from the office either in person or by sending a signed written request. Please give us a couple of months depending on case from the time of the exam to have the completed report. There are cases in which the tests necessary to establish the cause of death do take longer than two weeks and we will have the report ready as soon as possible. You may call and ask to speak to the physician that performed the exam if you have questions before the report is ready.
There is no cost to immediate family members with proper identification. All others are charged $25.00.
The Medical Examiner must authorize all cremations in El Paso County, regardless of whether they were or were not an ME case. This entails a review of the death certificate to ensure it is properly filled out and that the death is natural. Sometimes authorization is delayed because the certifying physician (patient's doctor) has not signed the death certificate when it is time for cremation or there are mistakes on the death certificate.
In El Paso, the funeral homes are responsible for generating and filing the death certificates. The funeral home will bring the death certificate to our office and the Medical Examiner will certify the cause and manner of death. The funeral home will then pick up the death certificate and file it with the County. Please contact your funeral home about obtaining a death certificate for your loved one.
Generally, medical examiners are physicians trained in death investigations and, tipically, completed subspecialty training (fellowship) in forensic pathology. In medical examiner systems, the medicolegal death investigation efforts are lead by a physician (forensic pathologist), and they are the death investigation authorities within a geographic jurisdiction, reviewing deaths, deciding which case meets the criteria for further investigation, performing autopsies when indicated, and creating written reports about their findings. The El Paso County Commissioners court appoints a chief medical examiner, who must be a licensed physician in the State of Texas, and certified in Anatomic and Forensic Pathology by the pertinent professional board.

On the other hand, a Coroner is most often an elected official, who serves as the authority of medicolegal death investigation, but may or may not have any medical training. Typically, a coroner has forensic pathologist under contract, or an agreement with a medical examiner system nearby, to conduct autopsies when needed.

Additional Coroner-Medical Examiner Material:
- Postmortem investigation in the US
- Difference between coroner and medical examiner systems

La Oficina del Médico Forense lamenta la pérdida de su ser querido. La información aqui contenida tiene el fin de ayudarle durante estos momentos difíciles

El cuerpo será transportado a la siguiente dirección:
Office of the Medical Examiner 4505 Alberta Ave., El Paso, Texas 79905.
De acuerdo al artículo 49.25 de el codigo de procedi-miento criminal del estado de Texas, la oficina del Médico Forense debe investigar las muertes que ocurren bajo cualquiera de las siguientes circunstancias:
- Muertes no atendidas por un médico
- Muertes que ocurren dentro de las primeras 24 horas despues de ingreso a un hospital, asilo, u otra institución de salud.
- Muertes en prisión u otro tipo de centro de detención.
- Cuando la cause de muerte es des-conocida y/o las circunstancias de la muerte son sospechosas.
- Cualquier muerte no natural
No. Usted podrá ver a su ser querido en la casa funeraria. Por favor, contacte una casa funeraria y haga los arreglos necesarios.
El médico forense determinará si una autopsia es necesaria. En algunos casos el médico forense realize solo un examen externo y revisión del expediente médico
Usted debe selecciónar una casa funeraria. El familiar legalmence más cercano debera firmar una forma que autorice a esta oficina para que el cuerpo sea entre-gado a la casa funeraria de su elección.
La causa de muerte sera descrita en el reporte de la autopsia (incluso en examenes externos). El familiar legalmente más cercano puede solici-tar una copia gratuita del reporte final (por una sola ocasión). Copias adicionales del reporte de la autopsia se expedirán a un costo de USD$25.00.
La Oficina del Medico Forense se coordinara con la casa funeraria para emitir una copia certificada del certificado de defunción. La oficina del forense no entrega copias del certificado de defunción. La funeraria que usted seleccione sera la encargada de archivar el certificado de defunción en la oficina de Estadísticas Vitales del Estado de Texas
La inmensa mayoría de los casos de la oficina del forense son finalizados en 30 dias hábiles. Algunos casos que requieren consultas subespecializadas pueden tardar 60 dias hábiles, o más.
Seran entregadas al familiar legalmente más cercano, ya sea al momento del fallecimiento o posterior a la autopsia, en la oficina del médico forense.