What Does a Medical Examiner Do? - Video

A Medical Examiner is a medical doctor who is also a licensed pathologist. MEs may also be called coroners, but a coroner may not always be called an ME (unless they are licensed). Medical Examiners work with deceased individuals in order to determine the cause of death.

Job Description

A Medical Examiner is a medical doctor as well as a licensed pathologist. They study the deceased in order to determine cause of death or study a particular disease or condition. They work in both private and government sectors. MEs are either anatomical or forensic pathologists. As an anatomical pathologist, MEs study the tissues, cells, organs and fluids to gain knowledge about disease. Forensic pathologists, on the other hand, examine the dead to determine their cause of death which is typically due to an injury or violent crime.

Daily Duties

Contrary to popular belief, Medical Examiners only spend about 10 percent of their time conducting autopsies. They spend a large part of their time researching and studying disease, tissues and causes of death. They will also appear as witnesses in court or other legal settings to give their medical opinions regarding cause of death. Medical Examiners will use a variety of tools to research and examine organs and cadavers. They analyze DNA, organ and blood samples using microscopes and other lab instruments. When examining violent crimes that didn't result in death, MEs may also help with rape investigations, analyzing DNA evidence or performing full body examinations to determine injuries.

Work Setting

Medical Examiners often work for government entities either at the federal, state or local level. They may also be employed in the private sector in a clinical or anatomical pathology position. MEs work mostly with other specialists in their field. They may also work with law enforcement officials, lawyers or others involved in solving mysterious deaths and crimes. They can work in a laboratory setting conducting research or may also be called to work in the field. Field work can include violent crime investigations, court settings or accident scenes.

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