The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has the responsibility to investigate all deaths of persons in New York City occurring from criminal violence, by accident, by suicide, suddenly when in apparent health, or in any unusual or suspicious manner. The Senior Medical Examiner in each of the five borough offices will, on a daily basis, review cases for further examination and determine whether an autopsy will be performed.
After completing the autopsy, the Medical Examiner issues a death certificate indicating the cause and manner of death. Frequently, such determinations are dependent on a review of hospital records, police reports, fire marshal reports (in fire deaths) and, in approximately 45% of the cases, subsequent laboratory tests. In such cases, the death certificate will indicate the cause and manner of death as “pending further study.” Upon receipt of these test results or other necessary information, final determinations as to cause and manner of death will be made, and the Medical Examiner will issue an amended death certificate reflecting these determinations.
For questions about the status of the Medical Examiner's investigation, please contact the appropriate OCME office.
Those interested in applying for updated copies of a death certificate can submit the previously issued certificate(s) (with the cause of death listed as “Pending”) in lieu of the usual $15 per certificate payment. Because individuals must exchange the original death certificate, orders may only be placed by mail or in person. Please remember that a check or money order for $15 per certificate is not needed only if the original certificates are submitted with the application and they were issued within the last three months.