Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

 

At a Glance

 

H. WAYNE CARVER, II, MD, Chief Medical Examiner

Edward T. McDonough, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner

Established - 1970

Statutory authority - CGS Sec. 19a-400 through 19a-414

Average number of employees - 55 full-time and 14 part-time

Recurring operating expenses - $ 4,946,874

Capital outlay - $ 62,832

 

Mission

In Connecticut, all violent, sudden, unexpected and suspicious deaths, deaths related to employment or which constitute a threat to the public health, and deaths of people whose bodies are to be cremated, are reportable to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.  It is the mission of this Office to investigate these deaths, certify the cause and manner of death and provide information to legitimate interested parties as defined by law and regulation.

               

Statutory Responsibility

     The Connecticut General Statutes concisely defines what deaths will be investigated.  Because of the nature of death, the Office has little control of the number of investigations.  During the year 15,664 deaths were reported to the Medical Examiner's Office. After initial investigation, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner took jurisdiction of 13,069 cases for further investigation.  Staff investigators and/or Assistant Medical Examiners, serving in communities throughout the state, initially investigates each case. Of the total number of deaths reported, 10,018 were cremation investigations, an increase of 6.2 percent from the previous fiscal year.  There were 1,572 Medicolegal autopsies/examinations conducted at the Farmington facility.  Of the autopsies performed at the Chief Medical Examiner's Office, 114 were homicide victims, a slight increase from the previous fiscal year. Completed records of homicides, including toxicological analysis, were furnished to the state's attorneys.   

     The Office, located on the grounds of the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round.  Our goal is:  to investigate deaths presented to this Office in a timely and in a high quality manner; release the body to the family within 24 hours; and complete at least 80 percent of required reports within thirty days of autopsy.

 

Public Service

     The Office is functionally divided into three parts:  Pathology Services; Laboratory Services and Management Services.  While the Office is geared to delivering services in a timely, efficient, high-quality and cost-effective manner, mandated layoffs, early retirements and budget reductions have unfortunately resulted in unacceptable delays in autopsy/examination service which results in often unacceptable delays to loved ones as they plan funeral services for the deceased.

     The Office has been a very active participant in the statewide CoreCT technology initiative for financial and human resource information technology systems.  The Office is also close to implementing a contemporary windows based death investigation information technology system to replace a very old DOS based system. 

     Ongoing review of business practices continues to result in small, but important, steps to streamline and simplify office operations. We continue to utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provided by the University of Connecticut Health Center.

     The facility is under the control of the Department of Public Works and managed by a private company.  Health and safety issues are continually addressed with the expected result of a better environment for the employees and protection of evidence. 

     Connecticut has one of the largest databases of accumulated death investigation data in the country (over 186,000 records).  The office produced substantial computerized statistical reports during the year. Recipients include state’s attorneys, public defenders, hospital quality control departments and researchers.  The Office continues its migration to automate processes to reduce repetitive manual entry to increase service response. Our website continues to be regularly accessed by interested individuals. Please visit our website at http://www.state.ct.us/ocme. 

               

Improvements/Achievements 2002-03

     In the toxicology and histology laboratories, we continue to invest in technological advances to more efficiently and effectively detect increasingly complex post mortem testing of tissue and fluids.       

     Seven pathology residents from two hospital training programs in Connecticut, four medical students from the University of Connecticut Health Center and one student from the University of New Haven spent an elective rotation at the Chief Medical Examiner's Office.  Twenty-four pathology master degree candidates from Quinnipiac College spent a rotation observing and assisting in the performance of autopsies during this period.

     An average of fifteen residents from several hospital pathology programs statewide participated in our forensic pathology seminar during 2002-2003.  Educational programs were provided to law enforcement personnel at the Connecticut Municipal Police Academy and Connecticut State Police Training Academy, to medical students at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Yale University School of Medicine and to many professional and community groups across the state.

     The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner continues its ongoing initiative to continuously improve the quality and delivery of its critical services in a timely, efficient and caring manner, and is committed to the letter and spirit of equal opportunity and affirmative action for all.

     The Chapter 368q of the Connecticut General Statutes places the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner under the supervision of the Commission on Medicolegal Investigations. The commission met at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington on September 20 and November 22, 2002 and on January 24, March 21 and May 30, 2003.  The March 21, 2003 meeting was the annual open meeting at which member of constituent groups and representatives of the public are invited to address the Commission.

     Commission membership during fiscal year 2002-2003:  Joxel Garcia, Commissioner, Department of Public Health, Hartford; Robert E. Cone, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington; Francis R. Coughlin, M.D., JD, Physician and Attorney, New Canaan; Steve Evans Downing, M.D., Professor of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven; Steven B. Duke, JD, Professor of Law, Yale University School of Law; New Haven; Todd Fernow, JD, University of Connecticut Law School, Hartford;  Susan Keane Baker, MHA, public member, Glastonbury;  Daniel C. Niejadlik, M.D., Physician, Essex; Richard A. Lavely, M.D., JD,MS, MPH, Connecticut Bar Association, Celia Pinzi, West Haven.  Dr. Downing was re-elected to continue serving as chairman.