Coroners and medical examiners are professionals who deal with the deceased. They are often government employees working as city, county and state examiners. Most of their work involves the completion of death reports, medical autopsies, forensic pathology and toxicology reports. Coroners and medical examiners work with local law enforcement officials. This work involves assisting in open cases and determining the the cause of death.
Although the roles of coroners and medical examiners may seem interchangeable, the positions differ. The qualifications necessary to obtain each position are not the same. While a medical examiner is required to be a medical professional, a coroner often does not have to have any medical experience.
While the terms coroner and medical examiner are often used interchangeably, they are technically two separate positions. Medical examiners are licensed physicians who choose to specialize in forensic pathology. They function as part of a larger law enforcement team and traditionally appointed to their position based on their skill levels.
By contrast, a coroner is often an elected position. Coroners collect information and perform investigations relating to cause-of-death determinations. However, they are not necessarily medical professionals and may need to delegate medical tasks to physicians.