What we do:
The Office of the Medical Examiner is a county agency charged under Arizona Law to perform medical investigations of certain types of deaths in our community. The goal of these investigations is to determine the medical cause (disease and/or injury) of the death for the protection of the public’s health and safety. Our investigations inform families, the public and its agencies, and other community stakeholders in the hopes that future deaths may be prevented.
Who we are:
Our agency is staffed by certified forensic medical and scientific professionals in a variety of fields including forensic pathology, forensic anthropology, forensic odontology, forensic technicians, neuropathology, medicolegal death investigation, forensic photography, histotechnology and administrative support staff.
Who we serve:
Our investigations are intended to serve the entire public of Maricopa County by identifying traumatic, non-natural, or unexplained deaths so that policy, legal, and public health interventions may be developed to assist residents live long and healthy lives. In doing these investigations, we commit ourselves to compassionate, kind, and professional interactions with the bereaved members of our community left behind by such tragedies.
- The office received full accreditation by National Association of Medical Examiners in December 2018.
- Forensic Pathologists – Board Certified by The American Board of Pathology
- Forensic Odontologists – Board Certified by The American Board of Forensic Odontology
- Forensic Anthropologists – Board Certified by The American Board of Forensic Anthropology
- Histotechs – Certified by American Society of Clinical Pathology
- Medicolegal Death Investigators - Certified by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators.
Chief Medical Examiners
- Dr. Daniel J. Condon – October 1951 – April 1964
- Dr. Thomas B. Jarvis – April 1964 – June 1964
- Dr. Daniel J. Condon – August 1964 – January 1969
- Dr. Thomas B. Jarvis – October 1969 – June 1971
- Dr. Heinz Karnitschnig – July 1971 – April 1992
- Dr. Philip Keen – April 1992 – August 2006
- Dr. Mark Fischione – September 2006 – June 2013
- Dr. Jeffrey Johnston – June 2013 to current
- A.R.S. Title 11 (Counties), Chapter 3 (County Officers), Article 12 (County Medical Examiner), which includes:
- A.R.S. §11-592 – County medical examiner; alternate medical examiners; fund; notification
- A.R.S. §11-593 – Reporting of certain deaths; failure to report; violation; classification
- A.R.S. §11-594 – Powers and duties of county medical examiner
- A.R.S. §11-597 – Autopsies; reports; exemption from liability
- A.R.S. §11-597.01 - Duty to conduct identification meeting; exception; immunity; definitions
- A.R.S. §11-600 – Burial of indigent deceased; disposal of property
- A.R.S. §36-325 – Death certificate registration; moving human remains; immunity
- A.R.S. §36-860 – County medical examiners; authorization
- A.R.S. §36-861 – Medical examiner; release of information
The Mission of the Medical Examiner is to provide professional medicolegal death investigations of individuals dying under statutorily defined circumstances, the results of which are communicated independently to relevant agencies, industries, and members of the public so they can receive accurate, timely, and effective communications that enhance the public’s safety and health.
To be recognized as a trustworthy source of accurate, scientifically based assessments of deaths in our community by having certified practitioners perform industry-standard professional death investigations, in an industry-accredited organization.
We hold service to be the highest of values. We commit to effective, positive, ethical, and compassionate service to all members of the public and to one another.
We commit to being professional and courteous in all our interactions, both with the public we serve and with each other. We commit to being honest, ethical, and diligent -- to do our best. We commit to being personally accountable for our words and actions and to help cultivate an organization of integrity by expecting the same of others. We do the right thing, even when no one is watching.
We commit to being empathetic, both to the public we serve and to one another, to be mindful of our speech and actions and how they may affect others. We recognize that honest, kind communication, even in the face of conflict, is an act of compassion.
We recognize that our perspective is critical to our attitude and that realistic assessments do not require negativity. We commit to approaching challenges with a positive attitude.
We recognize that nothing is constant. We commit to seeing the positive in change, that it is an opportunity for improvement.
We recognize the critical importance of other members of our department and of those outside our department with whom we work – we all have a role to play on the team. We commit to cultivating a positive, collaborative, service and solutions-oriented environment by working together.
We recognize that we must speak and act within certain bounds, that in order to be effective as a team we must focus on doing our best in our role on the team. We commit to working diligently within the bounds of our roles, being mindful not to attempt to take on inappropriate roles or to judge or undermine those in other roles.
Representatives from the Office of the Medical Examiner participate in many boards and taskforces, partnering with community stakeholders and providing medicolegal death investigation expertise in a variety of efforts focused on increasing public safety and reducing public harm.
- Child Fatality Review Board Opens a New Window. – Maricopa County OME participates in one of the eleven local child fatality teams throughout Arizona.
- AZ Department of Health Services Public Health Emergency Preparedness Opens a New Window.
- Opioid Task Force
- Drug Overdose Fatality Review Team Opens a New Window.
Tours – Out of respect for the deceased and their families and to avoid any disruption to daily operations, requests for tours of our forensic facility are generally not granted. A limited number of tours are available to law enforcement and government agencies involved in the medicolegal justice system. To submit a request, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.