I do go to a fair number of meetings attended by other coroner’s and the occasional representative of the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office (for a while it was Dr Denton). Lately they have been in “exotic places” like Springfield, Bloomington and Glen Ellyn. Chatting most often centers on work and it is not unusual to discuss and share about issues etc, but I digress a bit.
After discussions with folks from Cook County, we (that executive “we” again) have decided to change things a bit in the way we handle certain cases in the office. It is not a huge change, but change is the one constant. Historically (as long as anyone can remember), autopsies have been done infrequently in drug overdose deaths by the Lake County Coroner’s Office. The feeling was that having toxic levels of drugs, whether licit or illicit, in an individual “gives you” the cause of death. We will be doing autopsies now on most, if not all, drug related deaths. Information based on real experience, primarily from Cook County, informed us that possible prosecutions for dug-induced homicide proceed more smoothly with an autopsy done, despite the fact that the autopsy rarely gives any truly pertinent information as to the cause of death.
It may seem unusual that this was not encouraged through any communication from the Lake County State’s Attorney Office, but this is a newer “field” of possible prosecution and likely everyone is still “feeling their way”.
In all fairness the question was raised by a local police department and our research/information seeking in response to that brought the answers/opinions from the Cook County ME Office.