Toolbox Phase I

Phase I

  • PRONOUNCEMENT OF DEATH
  • NOTIFICATION OF DEATH
  • IDENTIFICATION OF BODY
  • AUTOPSY
  • CAUSE AND MANNER OF DEATH
  • THE DEATH CERTIFICATE & NEXT OF KIN

Although it may be obvious a person is dead, the official pronouncement cannot be made except by authorized persons: medical doctor, certified EMT person, or field medical investigator. The time of death listed is the time pronounced, not necessarily the actual time of the passing.

The notification of a violent death may come from law enforcement, clergy, medical people, family, friend, or even in the media. Who is notified and how the notification is made can vary case by case.

The identification of a body is made at the Office of the Medical Investigator’s Office (OMI) by fingerprint analysis, postmortem forensic dental examinations, DNA analysis, and x-ray and CT comparisons. OMI discourages the identification by viewing of the body – a photo of the body may be provided for family identification verification.

An autopsy is the examination of the body of a dead person performed by OMI primarily to determine the cause of death.

The cause and manner if death – determined by OMI. Cause may be gunshot, blunt force trauma, stabbing, illness, etc. Manner of death: Natural, accident, homicide, suicide, and undetermined.
*Homicide is the killing of a human by another. Murder is a crime as determined by police investigation.

After the autopsy, the body is released to a funeral home for burial or cremation. The report of the autopsy, including the results of the toxicology analysis, may not be complete for weeks – months.

Reports are provided without cost to the District Attorney in the jurisdiction in which the event leading to the death occurred, to the law enforcement agency responsible for investigating the death, and the next of kin. When family members request autopsy reports, OMI will offer to have the family review the information with a staff pathologist

The death certificate information is released by OMI to NM Vital Records. The certificate is issued and provided to the family via the funeral home. A final death certificate with the cause and manner of death may takes weeks-months to be issued. Preliminary death certificate information can be available in a shorter time-frame.

Next of Kin – Identifying and locating the next of kin (person’s closest living blood relative or spouse) can be an issue in many families and can cause delay in notifications.

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