It is the Medical Examiner's responsibility to determine the manner and cause of death, in the interests of justice, for the protection of the citizens and to provide answers for the health and welfare of the living. The scientific research and clinical approach to the autopsy clearly focuses on the preservation of life.
The duties of the staff of the Medical Examiner's Office encompass every conceivable type of homicide, suicide, accidental death, drug death, poisoning, suspicious death, etc.
The responsibility of the forensic pathologist is in both criminal and civil proceedings regarding time of death, pain and suffering, bullet trajectories, wounds, determining pre-mortem versus postmortem wounds, post-mortem movement of a body from another location, instrument type consistent with a particular injury as well as a multitude of other issues.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it necessary for me to come to the Rockland County Medical Examiners Office to identify or view the body?
No. In a majority of cases, visual identification is not required and subsequently not permitted. Should it become necessary for you to come in, such notification will be made to you by either the investigating police agency or a representative of the Medical Examiner's Office. Visual identifications are conducted by appointment only.
Why is an autopsy being performed?
An autopsy is necessary to satisfy the Medical Examiner's obligations as mandated by state law. There are some instances, however, in which an autopsy may not be performed. All matters, including objections to autopsy (religious and otherwise) will be discussed with you prior to our actions.
What do I do next?
A funeral director should be contacted as soon as possible. Such action should be taken by the next-of-kin, caretaker or family representative. In accordance with state law, decedents must be released to a licensed funeral director. The RCMEO and its staff are prohibited from recommendation of funeral directors.
How long will it take before my friend/relative is released from your office?
Generally, releases are conducted Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9am and 5pm and within 1-3 days following examination. Your Funeral Director will coordinate the release on your behalf.
Will autopsy results be available?
Yes. You may obtain a copy of an autopsy report by completing an 'Autopsy Report Request Form'. Only one copy is released to the decedent's legal next-of-kin. Please contact the office for policies regarding the release of additional copies. Final reports and results may take between 6 to 10 weeks, or more, depending on the case and circumstances.
I have questions regarding autopsy findings and/or the cause and manner of death. How may I address my concerns?
Upon case completion and/or receipt of the final autopsy report, all questions regarding autopsy findings must be submitted in writing to:
Dr. Laura S. Carbone
Rockland County Medical Examiner
50 Sanatorium Road
Pomona, New York 10970
Questions will be answered, in writing, to the best of our ability with the information that is available to our department. Due to the nature of our work, the RCMEO cannot accommodate such requests via telephone or walk-ins.
Where can I obtain a death certificate?
Death certificates are filed by the funeral director with the town/village registrar in which the pronouncement of death occurred. Requests for certificates must be directed to the registrar where it was filed.
The death certificate says pending further studies/investigation. What does this mean?
At the discretion of the Medical Examiner, information from further testing and investigation may be required before a final ruling is made regarding the cause and/or manner of death. In such instances, an amended death certificate will be filed with the registrar once all information and results are available to our office. You will be notified of such changes via mail.
How do I obtain my loved one's personal possessions?
All non-evidentiary items accompanying a decedent to the RCMEO, such as clothing, jewelry, etc., will be signed over to the funeral director, upon release of the body, for prompt return to the next-of-kin. The RCMEO strictly prohibits the return of notes of intent and medications.
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What types of cases fall under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner?
The Medical Examiner has jurisdiction and authority to investigate the death of every person dying within it's county or whose body is found in the county, as is proscribed in Article 17A § 673.
In accordance with state law, the following types of death must be reported immediately to the Office of the Medical Examiner:
- All homicides or suspected homicides.
- All suicides or suspected suicides.
- All traumatic deaths - no matter what the nature of the trauma.
- All deaths due to poisoning or suspected poisoning.
- All deaths in public places.
- All job-related deaths.
- All operative deaths or deaths associated with diagnostic or therapeutic procedures.
- All deaths due to criminal abortion or attempts at criminal abortion.
- All drug deaths, drug-related deaths, or suspected drug deaths.
- All deaths due to acute alcohol intoxication.
- All sudden deaths of apparently healthy individuals.
- All deaths of incarcerated individuals and persons in police custody.
- All suspicious deaths.
- All deaths in infants, children, the elderly, or disabled where abuse issuspected or the circumstances are not clear.
- All deaths of persons under age 30.
- All deaths where the deceased will be cremated, unembalmed or buried at sea.
- All discoveries of skeletal remains and decomposed individuals where skin changes are prominent.
- All deaths within 24 hours of admission to a hospital or nursing home.
- All fetal deaths where gestation is beyond 20 weeks or the fetal weight is greater than 350 grams.
- All institutional deaths.
- All residential deaths.
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Medicolegal Death Investigation
A Medicolegal Death Investigation is a multidisciplinary, scientific approach to investigating sudden, unnatural, unexplained and/or unattended deaths. It is a non-biased, fact-finding process, segmented into 6 stages meant to most accurately determine the mechanism, cause and manner of a death.
Three of the major components to a proper Medicolegal Death Investigation are the History, Scene Investigation and Autopsy phases. Information collected during the History and Scene Investigation phases are crucial in understanding the information that is later gained during autopsy examination. Inaccurate information leads to inaccurate results. As such, Medicolegal Death Investigators are sometimes tasked with asking questions that may be uncomfortable for family members to answer but we do this with complete professionalism and from a scientific standpoint, to provide family members with an accurate understanding of their loved one's death.
An autopsy is a post-mortem surgical examination of a decedent's body and/or remains. Autopsies are conducted by specially trained pathologists, in a suite specifically designed for post-mortem forensic examinations.
Some of the subspecialties that may be a part of a Medicolegal Death Investigation include:
- Forensic Toxicology
- Forensic Anthropology
- Forensic Dentistry
- Forensic Entomology
- Facial Reconstruction
- Forensic DNA Analysis
- Crime Scene Reconstruction
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Laura S. Carbone, M.D.
Support Staff & Services:
Medicolegal Death Investigators
Full-time & Relief
Assistant Medical Examiners
Part-time & Relief
Part-time & Relief
Laboratory Service Contracts
Board-certified Forensic Anthropologists
Board-certified Forensic Odontologist
OCME City of New York DNA Lab
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