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Utah Office of the Medical Examiner

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Reporting a Death

If you need to report a death to our office or want to inquire if a death falls under our jurisdiction, please call the central office number (801-816-3850) and you will be connected with an investigator. Deaths that fall under our jurisdiction are dictated by the Medical Examiner’s Act and are as follows:

26-4-7. Custody by Medical Examiner

Upon notification under Section 26-4-8 or investigation by the medical examiner’s office, the medical examiner shall assume custody of a deceased body if it appears that death was:

  1. by violence, gunshot, suicide, or accident (including all motor vehicle deaths);
  2. sudden death while in apparent good health;
  3. unattended deaths, except that an autopsy may only be performed in accordance with the provisions of Subsection 26-4-9(3);
  4. under suspicious or unusual circumstances;
  5. resulting from poisoning or overdose of drugs;
  6. resulting from diseases that may constitute a threat to the public health;
  7. resulting from disease, injury, toxic effect, or unusual exertion incurred within the scope of the decedent’s employment;
  8.  due to sudden infant death syndrome;
  9. resulting while the decedent was in prison, jail, police custody, the state hospital, or in a detention or medical facility operated for the treatment of persons with a mental illness, persons who are emotionally disturbed, or delinquent persons;
  10. associated with diagnostic or therapeutic procedures; or
  11. described in this section when request is made to assume custody by a county or district attorney or law enforcement agency in connection with a potential homicide investigation or prosecution.

Designated Representative (DesRep) cases

If a death falls under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner and the patient had been under in-patient medical care for a period of time, the death still needs to be reported to the medical investigator on duty. After discussing the circumstances of the case, the death may be classified as a ‘Designated Representative’ (DesRep) case.

This designation indicates there has been sufficient diagnostic testing for a cause of death to be determined. If death is due to trauma, there will be a query as to the type of injuries and their documentation. The possibility of criminal charges will also be taken into consideration as to whether the body is sent to the OME or not. An OME case number will be assigned but the treating physician will be authorized to complete the death certificate.

Inquiry cases

If a death is reported to the OME and after review the circumstances do not necessitate that the OME assume jurisdiction, the case will be handled as an ‘Inquiry’ by our office.  This may require you to provide at least some basic personal information regarding the deceased as well as information regarding your diagnoses and treatments of the individual.

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