Home
subscribe to newsfeed
type size: A+ A-
Print
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Coroner-Medical Examiner: FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS  

The following is an attempt to provide basic information about the Clark County Coroner's Office to assist you with the necessary procedures following a death.  If your questions are not answered below, please contact us for more assistance at (702) 455-3210.

 

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

State and County laws make it the duty of the Clark County Coroner to inquire into and determine the cause and manner of death that occur under the following circumstances:

 
 Violence:  To include homicides and suicides.
 Accidental: To include vehicular, industrial, drowning, fire, falls, etc.
 Abuse: Any death suspected to be related to abuse or neglect.
 Suspicious: Any death occurring under circumstances which do not appear to be natural.
 Unattended: Any death occurring without a physician present at the time of death, outside of a medical facility.
 In Custody: Any death occurring while incarcerated, to include during arrest or while in any County, City, or State facility.
 Overdoses: Any death suspected to be related to the overdose use of illegal or prescribed drugs.
 Abortion: Any death resulting from criminal or self-induced abortion.

Other cases that are reviewed by policy to determine if they are to be accepted by the Coroner's Office are as follows:

Medical Facility Deaths: Any death occurring within 24 hours of admittance to a medical facility is investigated and a determination is made as to whether or not the death warrants the involvement of the Coroner.
Surgical Death: Any death occurring during surgery is investigated and a determination is made as to whether or not the death warrants the involvement of the Coroner.








 

Once a death has been reported to the Coroner's Office, an investigator will respond to the scene and conduct an investigation.  As part of this process, the decedent may be taken to the Coroner's facility pending further investigation and/or examination by a medical examiner (physician-pathologist) to determine the cause and manner of death.

The final determination will be based on the following information:

  1. Initial Investigation: Information collected at the scene of the death and through follow-up investigation that will clarify medical history and circumstances surrounding the death.

  2. Medical Examination:

(a) External Examination: A complete physical examination is conducted on the decedent.  The findings and any known medical history are combined to determine the cause and manner of death.  Although an external examination is non-invasive, it is sometimes necessary to obtain samples of body fluids to aid in determining the cause of death and/or contributing factors.

(b) Autopsy: A complete physical examination, internally as well as externally, is conducted on the decedent which includes a thorough examination of each organ and if necessary, microscopic examination of the organs. The findings of this examination together with the investigative findings and any known medical history are combined to determine the cause and manner of death.  Although an autopsy is an extensive examination, it is sometimes necessary to obtain samples of body fluids to aid in determining the cause of death and/or contributing factors.

 

It should be noted that due to the fact that some of the above examinations are based on laboratory analysis, the final determination may be delayed depending on the type of analysis required.

CHOOSING A MORTUARY/CREMATION SERVICE

The Clark County Coroner Mortuary Rotation - a system is in place which utilizes most of the local mortuaries on a weekly rotating basis.  What this means is that when the next of kin has no preference or is not immediately available to choose or there isn't any evidence of a pre-need designation by the deceased, the "duty mortuary" will transport the decedent to the Coroner's facility.  This by no means obligates the next of kin to use that mortuary for their funeral arrangements.  If, however, after 24 hours have passed and the next of kin has not contacted the Coroner's Office regarding their choice of mortuary or cremation service, the decedent will be released to the "duty mortuary" pending final disposition.  Arrangements can then be made through that mortuary or any other mortuary or cremation service.  Again, the next of kin is still not obligated to use the "duty mortuary" for the funeral arrangements.

PERSONAL PROPERTY

The Coroner's Office is responsible for property that is either on the decedent or under the immediate control of the decedent.  Property on the decedent may or may not be removed at the place of death at the discretion of the Coroner Investigator.  Whenever property is removed from the decedent, each item is described and recorded on a property receipt with a witness co-signing the receipt.  Property is then either released to the next of kin at the time of removal or secured at the Coroner's Office.  Under most circumstances the property is available for release to the legal next of kin during normal office hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

CLARK COUNTY PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR


In the event that the next of kin is not immediately available to secure the decedent's residence and personal possessions, the Public Administrator may be called to secure the residence and the contents therein.  This is done to protect the interest of the decedent and the next of kin.  If the next of kin is available to take possession of the decedent's residence and its contents, there is to need for the involvement of the Public Administrator.  

The Public Administrator does charge a fee for their services.  It is suggested that you contact them for an appointment prior to arriving.

DEATH CERTIFICATES

Death Certificates are generated by the mortuaries or cremation services and as such, your funeral director or cremation service director will assist you in obtaining Death Certificates. Death Certificates may also be obtained from the Vital Records office located at the Southern Nevada Health District.

MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION

To obtain copies of the police reports you should contact the law enforcement agencies involved with the case.

Identification and Viewing:

Contrary to popular belief, it is not required or usually necessary for the next of kin to come to the Coroner's facility to visually identify the decedent.  We understand you may wish to see the decedent as soon as possible.  In consideration of this, we will work with the funeral home or cremation service of choice to expedite the release of the decedent for viewing purposes.  You can then work directly with them to arrange for this service.

Veterans:
Persons who have served in the armed forces and were honorably discharged may be entitled to a Veteran's burial.  For more information contact your local Veterans Affairs Office.

Insufficient Funds:
If the decedent's estate does not have sufficient funds to cover the cost of the disposition of the remains and you are unable to assume the financial responsibility, you may apply for assistance from Clark County Social Service.  Your funeral director or cremation service director will be able to assist you in this process.

RELATED AGENCY LISTINGS

Agencies that may provide assistance or information to make arrangements are listed below for your reference

 Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department  (702) 828-3111
 North Las Vegas Police Department  (702) 633-9111
 Henderson Police Department  (702) 267-5000
 Boulder City Police Department  (702) 293-9224
 Mesquite Police Department  (702) 346-5262
 Nevada Highway Patrol  (702) 486-4100
 Southern Nevada Health District Vital Records  (702) 759-1010
 Clark County Public Administrator   (702) 455-4332
 Veterans Administration (Local)  (702) 636-3000
 1-800-827-1000