NC Medical Examiners Rarely Go To Scene Of Suspicious Deaths


Unlike some states, North Carolina does not require medical examiners to go to the scene of suspicious deaths, says the Charlotte Observer in an examination of the state’s medical examiner system. An Observer analysis of state data shows that local medical examiners did not go to the scene in about 9 of every 10 deaths they investigated since 2001. They did not even view the body in about 1 of every 10 cases. Dr. Deborah Radisch, the state's chief medical examiner, said it is law enforcement's job to gather evidence at the scene and the medical examiner's job to look over the body.

“There is little that the ME can add at the scene, especially with current investigative technology and extensive scene photography,” Radisch said. She said medical examiners are “basically volunteers” performing a public service for a $100 fee for each death investigation. North Carolina spends less than $1 per capita on its medical examiner system. Dr. Victor Weedn, a George Washington University professor who has studied nationally accredited systems, says states and counties should spend between $2.50 and $3.50 per capita. If going to the scene were a requirement, Radisch said, the state would have even fewer medical examiners.

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