Frequently Asked Questions
Is it necessary for me to come to the Medical Examiner's Office to identify the body?
How do I obtain an autopsy report?
How do I obtain a death certificate?
What if I need information other than an autopsy report or a death certificate?
What services does the Regional Forensic Science Center provide?
When do cases fall under the jurisdiction of the District Coroner?
How are death investigations conducted?
What sections comprise the Forensic Science Laboratories?
Why is accreditation important to the Regional Forensic Science Center?
How does the Regional Forensic Science Center work with other criminal justice partners?
Does the Regional Forensic Science Center provide services to counties other than Sedgwick?
- Is it necessary for me to come to the Medical Examiner's Office to identify the body? No. In the majority of cases, visual identification by family, friends or acquaintances is not necessary.
- Will an autopsy be performed? An autopsy will only be performed when there is a need to establish the cause of death or in cases where criminal/civil proceedings may follow. The Medical Examiner will not perform an autopsy if the cause of death can be determined from outside medical informants, review of records or other qualified means. Family objections to autopsies are evaluated on a case by case basis, therefore families may be requested to complete an autopsy wavier form.
- Is viewing allowed? No. Our facilities are not service-oriented. Viewing is prohibited at our offices due to biological hazards, therefore bodies will only be available for viewing at the selected funeral home.
- How do I obtain an autopsy report? Autopsy reports, once completed, are public records under the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA). To receive a free copy of an autopsy report via email or a printed certified copy of an autopsy report, please contact the Clerk of District Court at (316) 660-5900.
- How do I obtain a death certificate? Death certificates, once completed, can be obtained by contacting the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Office of Vital Statistics at 1 (785) 296-1400.
- What if I need information other than an autopsy report or a death certificate? Records and other information can also be obtained at email@example.com.
- What services does the Regional Forensic Science Center provide? The regional Forensic Science Center (RFSC) houses the Office of the District Coroner and the Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL). The district coroner provides pathologist-directed autopsies to determine cause and manner of death. The FSL functions as the "crime laboratory" for all law enforcement agencies within Sedgwick County.
- When do cases fall under the jurisdiction of the District Coroner? As mandated by law, the district coroner is a appointed position with the responsibility for investigating deaths within Sedgwick County that are a result of violence, unlawful means, suddenly when in apparent health, not regularly attended by a physician, any suspicious or unusual manner, when in police custody, or when the determination of the cause of death is held to be in the public interest. The primary goal of death investigation and the postmortem examination is to determine cause and manner of death in order to issue a death certificate.
- How are death investigations conducted? Death investigations are conducted by trained medical investigators in accordance with accreditation standards established by the National Association of Medial Examiners (NAME). The Medical Investigation section of the RFSC provides coverage for death calls year round, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They typically attend the scene of death in coroner's cases, which occur outside of a hospital, to evaluate and document findings, and collect evidence. Medical investigators may conduct interviews with friends and family, as well as gather appropriate records, to assist with the determination of cause and manner of death.
- What sections comprise the Forensic Science Laboratories? The Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL) has three sections: Toxicology, Biology/DNA, and Criminalistics. Toxicology executes comprehensive examinations of post-mortem (autopsy) samples to assist in determining the cause and manner of death, as well as specimens collected in the investigation of driving under the influence of drugs and / or alcohol, and drug facilitated sexual assault cases. Biology/DNA performs evidence examination of biological material derived from a variety of cases, including sex crimes, homicides, property crimes, assaults and forensic identifications. Criminalistics provides forensic examinations in drug identification, open container analysis, firearms & tool marks, and fire debris.
- Why is accreditation important to the Regional Forensic Science Center? The Regional Forensic Science Center (RFSC) maintains accreditation from National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) and ANSI-National Accreditation Board (ANAB). Each accreditation assesses the RFSC's quality assurance program against rigorous industry standards as well as the competence of staff. Compliance with accreditation standards limits the county's liability for wrongdoing and provides the public assurance that expert witness testimony resulting in the identification the guilty or exoneration of the innocent is based on sound scientific and medical practices.
- How does the Regional Forensic Science Center work with other criminal justice partners? The Regional Forensic Science Center interacts with law enforcement, the Office of the District Attorney, the Wichita City Prosecutor's Office, and court system daily. The center provides thorough death investigations and accurate forensic scientific analyses of evidence to aid in the detection and adjudication of criminal activity. The medical examiners and the forensic scientists provide accurate forensic reports and courtroom testimony.
- Does the Regional Forensic Science Center provide services to counties other than Sedgwick? The Regional Forensic Science Center does provide autopsy and laboratory services to other Kansas counties on a "cost recovery fee" basis.