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Medical Aide Personnel and the Medical Examiner's Office | Print |

It is the responsibility of medical aide personnel responding to the scene to ascertain whether medical measures are needed.

When it can clearly be determined by simple inspection that medical attention would be of no avail, the body and surroundings should not be disturbed. The Medical Examiner's Office must be notified immediately upon determination of an apparent natural death outside of a medical care setting. In the event of a violent death, the Medical Examiner's Office and the affected law enforcement agency must be notified immediately. It is important that the body and its surroundings be preserved in its original position. Your responsibility will be to preserve the scene until relieved by either the Medical Examiner Investigator or concerned law enforcement agency.

If the body is in public view, it should be covered and care taken to keep the public back and away. In the rare instance, if the body is in danger of being damaged or mutilated at the scene, it should be moved, but only so far as to get it out of a dangerous area; i.e., from a highway lane to the shoulder. The body should be outlined with chalk prior to movement. It cannot be overemphasized that care be taken at the scene of a violent death, and that movement of articles; i.e., firearms, knives, etc., be made only when absolutely necessary during life threatening situations. Any movement must be made with extreme caution so as not to destroy possible evidence; i.e., fingerprints. Any movement must be documented and presented to the Medical Examiner Investigator or law enforcement officers on their arrival.

Under no circumstances should medical aide personnel probe or place any objects into wounds, such as a bullet or knife wound. Such probing could destroy valuable evidence which is important in the proper interpretation of injuries. In cases of ligature strangulation, if there is reason to believe that the victim may respond to first aid measures, the ligature should be removed by cutting in some location well away from the knot. The type of knot, the position of the knot and the general appearance of the ligature all contribute to the Medical Examiner's conclusions as to the cause and manner of death. Under no circumstances should the knot be untied.

Medical aide personnel should leave any I.V. lines, tubes and dressings in place. Any needle or other puncture wounds made by medical aide personnel where lines are not still in place may be circled with a ball-point pen. If at all possible, the emergency treatment run sheet indicating aide personnel, names, time, day, observations and actions taken relevant to the treatment of the deceased, should be promptly provided to the Medical Examiner Investigator.

Medical aide personnel are reminded to remove from the scene all articles that they may have introduced, such as used bandages, gloves, wrappers and I.V. lines not attached to the body. Such articles contaminate a crime scene and must be accounted for during the investigation and following legal proceedings.

Frequently, medical aide personnel have valuable information about the terminal event. Examples include whether foreign material or objects were present in or removed from the airway, or whether intubation attempts were met with difficulty. Any information concerning the event should be reported to the Medical Examiner Investigator or investigating law enforcement agency. Please feel free to contact the Medical Examiner's Office regarding any questions or information you may have.

Since it is often the responsibility of the Medical Examiner's Office to notify the next-of-kin, medical aide personnel are asked not to search the body, clothing or premises for identification. This information will be given to those interested parties upon request by the Medical Examiner's Office. An exception to this rule is when a patient is comatose and unable to communicate, you must search the decedent to find any medical tags, bracelets or necklaces. If this search is with negative results, you may look to the wallet or purse for any information which would help in diagnosing and treating the patient. This property then becomes your responsibility and must be turned over to law enforcement or to or the Medical Examiner Investigator. PLEASE DO NOT TURN THIS PROPERTY OVER TO ANYONE ELSE. Please document your actions on the emergency medical run sheet. This action will greatly reduce any problems which might occur when many people handle personal property. Medical aide personnel, excluding the emergency physician, are asked not to contact the family physician as this will cause unnecessary duplication of inquiries. If contact is made during the life maintaining efforts, this contact should be reported to the Medical Examiner Investigator upon his or her arrival or documented on the emergency run sheet.

Medical Aide personnel may have occupational exposures to blood-borne or airborne pathogens. Those with such concerns should follow their agencies exposure protocol and have their safety officer or medical director contact the FCMEO at 404-730-4400.


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Fulton County Medical Examiner

430 Pryor Street SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30312
Phone: 404-613-4400
Fax: 404-613-2463
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