Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) is the statewide agency designated by law to investigate deaths from injury, homicide, suicide, under unusual or suspicious circumstances, or when a person is not attended by a physician.
Along with the medicolegal responsibility to determine cause and manner of death, OCME serves a critical public health role by identifying injury trends or potential infectious diseases that may pose risk to Marylanders.
OCME also provides educational and training programs, and offers the only forensic medicine education program in the Mid-Atlantic region.
More information about OCME is available on our FAQs page and in annual reports.
A death certificate must be completed by a doctor for all deaths before the body can be sent to the funeral home. When the person has a family doctor and dies from natural causes (i.e. the result of a disease), the doctor can complete the death certificate. But when a case meets specified criteria, such as a person not under the care of a physician or a death that appears to be suspicious, the medical examiner must be notified to begin an investigation and make sure the death certificate is completed.
Forensic investigation is the primary tool used to determine the cause and manner of death. The investigation may include an autopsy -- an external and internal exam to identify injuries or disease processes that may have contributed to the death. The autopsy is performed by forensic pathologists; medical doctors who have been specially trained to recognize patterns of injury , collect evidence and investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.
For more information about forensic investigation and OCME, consult the FAQs page. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org