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Death Certification by the Medical Examiner/Coroner in Drug-Related Deaths

Event Dates

This webinar is part of the Medicolegal Death Investigation (MDI) Webinar Series, which will present practices used, lessons learned, and challenges and barriers faced within the MDI community. Webinar topics in the series include drug-related fatalities, prescription drug monitoring programs, and forensic science data integration.

This webinar will cover best practices for determining cause of death in suspected drug-related deaths, including performance of autopsy and toxicology when possible. It will also include some recommendations for when a drug-related death should be suspected based on a decedent's history and scene findings. 

This webinar will dive into specifics on how drugs should be listed on the death certificate once the cause of death is established. This is especially important for deaths related to multiple drugs detected in the system and in death investigations where the cause of death is a complication of acute intoxication that might otherwise be considered a natural death (such as a stroke). 

Best practice recommendations on manner of death will also be covered, as will understanding the difference between including information on parts 1 and 2 of the death certificate. 

Information will be presented on filing death certificates with a pending cause and/or manner of death, and lastly best practice recommendations for completion of the injury information on the death certificate will be presented.

Detailed Learning Objectives:
Attendees will be able to:

  • Understand how the information listed on a death certificate is coded and used for public health purposes.
  • Identify how to list drugs on a death certificate when they are the primary cause of death.
  • Determine how best to complete the injury description on a death certificate to convey the most information possible.

Kelly Keyes, D-ABMDI, Retired, Supervising Medicolegal Death Investigator, Orange County Sheriff's Office Coroner Division, California

Date Created: October 13, 2021