Below you can find a list of useful resources for coroners.
Improving Coroner-Reported Cause of Death
Division of Vital Records’ one-pager and PowerPoint presentation
The one-page reference aims to guide coroners in improving their cause-of-death reporting. It lists top rules for determining cause of death as well as terms to use when reporting drug deaths. Additionally, the PowerPoint serves as a more comprehensive and in-depth guide than the above-mentioned one-pager. It explains in detail how to properly fill out the cause of death form. Newly appointed coroners are encouraged to familiarize themselves with both documents.
The National Center for Health Statistics’ training module
The training module focuses on improving cause-of-death reporting. Though the module is tailored for health professionals, it contains pertinent information for coroners. The accompanying free and quick reference phone app can be found on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. We encourage you to share these resources with health professionals.
Reference guide for completing death certificates for drug toxicity deaths
Death certificates provide helpful information used by public health officials to detect state and national mortality trends, determine which medical conditions receive research and prevention funding and measure the population’s health at local, state and national levels. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) developed a reference guide for medical examiners, coroners and other medical certifiers about completing a death certificate for drug toxicity deaths. The guide details instructions for completing each section in a death certificate for a drug toxicity death, highlights examples and contains an appendix section with resources for more information.
Regional coroner trainings
In July 2019, the Association of State and Territorial Health Official (ASTHO) and the Indiana Department of Health held four regional trainings around Indiana. These trainings, facilitated by Dr. Daniel Dye, associate coroner/medical examiner in Jefferson County, Alabama, included information about how to complete death certificates for fatal overdoses. Objectives of the training were to provide an overview of the NCHS Reference Guide mentioned above, examine drug overdose case examples, discuss how the new guidance can be implemented in coroner practice in Indiana and gather comments on the guide to share with the NCHS. You can access a recording of the presentation here.
National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)
Fact sheet on the NVDRS
The fact sheet includes information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s NVDRS, which links details of violent deaths – the who, when, where and how – and shares insights into why they occurred. NVDRS relies on information from coroner/medical examiner reports (including toxicology), law enforcement reports and death certificates to pool anonymized data on violent deaths and their circumstances into one database. The NVDRS data can be used to better understand the circumstances around violent death across different populations and locations and over time.
Without partnerships with coroners and medical examiners, NVDRS could not assess circumstances of violent deaths or patterns in injury characteristics and other critical information that help local communities identify the most important contributing factors to violent deaths, which in turn help prevention partners develop effective prevention strategies. Coroners interested in submitting reports to NVDRS can contact John O’Boyle, records coordinator, at 317-402-6052 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVE guidelines for medical examiners discussing suicide with the media and families
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) released two new guides: 1. Best Practices for Medical Examiners and Coroners Talking with the Media about Suicide and 2. Best Practices for Medical Examiners and Coroners Talking with Families about Suicide. SAVE reviewed 18 months of literature to find best practices, conducted surveys with the industry and received feedback from medical examiners and coroners about content to develop this first-ever set of best practice guidelines. The guidelines were designed to help medical examiners and coroners discuss suicide by providing a list of key issues to highlight in an interview and areas to avoid.
Child sex-abuse resources
New guidelines for exams of child sex-abuse victims
The Indiana Department of Health, the Indiana Department of Child Services and other stakeholders have released a detailed framework for conducting forensic exams of prepubescent children who have been sexually abused. The Indiana Guidelines of Medical Forensic Examinations of Sexual Abuse Patients 2020, created under the guidance of a multidisciplinary team of professionals, are intended to standardize forensic examinations of child violence and sex-abuse victims and make essential care and treatment available to them throughout the state.
Infographic: When to call the coroner
The Indiana Department of Health created an infographic in collaboration with the Marion County Coroner’s Office to educate hospital-based physicians on when to notify a coroner in the event of a patient’s death. All coroners are encouraged to distribute this information in their county’s hospitals and through other channels to increase the number of fatalities that are properly reported to and investigated by coroners.
Trauma and Injury Prevention Program Director, Division of Trauma and Injury Prevention
Page last updated 12/31/20.