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