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About the Office of the Medical Examiner

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The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner investigates deaths in the City and County of Denver that are required to be reported by the Colorado statute. The office is responsible for the subsequent certification of the cause and manner of death. The Medical Examiner/Coroner's Office employs 22 people and has an annual budget of $2.1 million. It is involved with the investigation of over 2,000 deaths annually in the City and County of Denver.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to some of your most common questions.

No. Only certain deaths are required to be reported by Colorado statute.

We recommend you contact several mortuaries to get an idea of the services offered and the cost. We cannot recommend a specific mortuary to you. If you are not from this area you may wish to select a mortuary from your hometown and let them assist you especially if the body is to be transported. Once you have selected a mortuary they will have you sign a release and the mortuary will contact our office.

Most often the identification is made through fingerprint comparison or other means. Sometimes a personal identification is required in which case one of our investigators will contact you to make arrangements for identification.

The following must be reported to the Medical Examiner's Office:

  • All patients that die within 24 hours of admission to a hospital.
  • All deaths in which the attending physician has not been in attendance of the decedent within 30 days prior to death.
  • All deaths that occur in the emergency room.
  • All deaths resulting from accident, suicide, or homicide.
  • Any death in the operating room.
  • Any death thought to be related to a therapeutic procedure.
  • Deaths resulting from thermal, chemical, or radiation injury.
  • All cases in which the attending physician is unable or unwilling to certify the cause of death.
  • All deaths due to unexplained causes or under suspicious circumstances.
  • Deaths resulting from a disease which may be hazardous or contagious or which may constitute a threat to the public health.
  • Sudden deaths or persons in good health.
  • All cases in which trauma may be associated with the death.
  • Any death while in the custody of law enforcement or while incarcerated in a public institution.

An autopsy is a postmortem examination of a body to determine the cause and manner of death and to document any injury, disease, or abnormality present.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner does not charge for body storage. We will keep the body for as long as required for the family to make the necessary arrangements.

No. In actuality only a small percentage are. Almost 5000 deaths are reported to the Medical Examiner's Office anually. About 700 to 800 autopsies are performed each year. The remainder have the cause and manner of death certified based on medical history or an external examination of the body

There are many variables that determine the length of time to get a final autopsy report. It can take from 3 to 6 weeks and sometimes longer depending on the testing required. As soon as the final death certificate can be issued our office contacts the mortuary and they bring an "amended" death certificate which we complete. The mortuary then takes the death certificate to Denver Vital Records for filing. The mortuary can assist you in determining the number of death certificates you will need and in obtaining them.

The CAUSE of death is the disease or injury responsible for initiating the train of events, brief or prolonged, that produced the fatal end result.

The MANNER of death is the fashion in which the CAUSE of death came into being. It can be one of only five designations - natural, suicide, homicide, accident, or undetermined.

No. In spite of much research an exact time of death cannot be determined. An estimate can be made based on a number of physical factors but the exact time of an unattended death cannot be determined


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