Medical Examiner
4505 Alberta Avenue
El Paso, Texas 79905
Phone (915) 532-1447
Fax (915) 532-6630
isantiago@epcounty.com

Office of the Medical Examiner & Forensic Laboratory

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  •  
  • Where will my relative or friend be taken?
  • He/She will be taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner, 4505 Alberta Avenue, El Paso, Texas 79905.
  •  
  • Why is the office of the Medical Examiner (ME) involved?
  • 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
  •  
  • Do I have to come identify the body?
  • No. Most often a visual identification is not necessary. However if the decedent arrives as a unidentifed, we may require a family member to view the person, to aid in his/her identification.
  •  
  • Is viewing allowed?
  • No. Viewing is not permitted.
  •  
  • Will an autopsy be done?
  • 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.
  •  
  • Will my loved one be viewable after the autopsy?
  • If there were no injuries before the autopsy, Yes. The incisions from the autopsy are easily covered by clothing.
  •  
  • Do I have to pay for the autopsy or the transportation to the Office of the Medical Examiner?
  • No
  •  
  • What if we want to donate organs and tissue?
  • 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.
  •  
  • What should I do once my loved one is taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner?
  • 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.
  •  
  • How long does my loved one have to stay there?
  • Usually hours, However, there are cases that can take longer or a high volume of cases may delay the examination.
  •  
  • What happens to the personal effects of my loved one?
  • 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.
  •  
  • How do I find out the results of the exam?
  • 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.
  •  
  • How much does a report cost?
  • There is no cost to immediate family members with proper identification. All others are charged $25.00.
  •  
  • Why does the Medical Examiner have to authorize the cremation of my loved one?
  • 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.
  •  
  • How do I get a 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.