There is no greater honor than writing the last chapter of someone’s life story. As medicolegal death investigators, that is what we do and, for the most part, we do it well. With seemingly innumerable courses, electronic mailing lists, and forensic science discussion groups, there is a plethora of available information on how to investigate just about every possible death scene and circumstance. Unfortunately, there is not a major focus on the management and administration of offices and personnel in the medicolegal death investigation field. With the exception of those offices under the law enforcement umbrella, many medicolegal death investigation managers and supervisors lack basic managerial training and the “big picture” purpose and role of a Medical Examiner/Coroner (ME/C) Office is often forgotten or overlooked not only by its employees but by its administrators. The lack of managerial training and resulting substandard managerial performance; misguided managerial focus; and managerial inaction, to include the ignoring and/or avoidance of problem issues and personnel; ultimately results in the creation and maintenance of a toxic work environment and the “big picture” becomes foggy, if not completely invisible. In this environment, “cancerous” employees infect the environment to the point that good employees either leave or lose the motivation and dedication to a job well done.
The primary focus of most medicolegal death investigation managers, administrators, and supervisors is to ensure ME/C personnel properly determine jurisdiction, document deaths reported to the office, conduct scene investigations, perform death notifications, conduct postmortem examinations, certify deaths falling under its jurisdiction, and document the investigative efforts in comprehensive and factual reports, in addition to many other ancillary functions. We are fortunate to work with many outstanding death investigators and support personnel who choose to do the noblest of jobs in an underpaid, under-appreciated, and overly-stressed work environment.
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