Program Description

The Office of the Medical Examiner is organized into three sections under the Department of Health:  

  • Forensic Pathology
  • Field Investigation
  • Laboratory, including Forensic Toxicology and Histology

As mandated by law, the Office of the Medical Examiner is responsible for investigating the death of any person who dies within Erie County as a result of criminal violence, neglect, casualty, suicide, or in any suspicious or unusual manner. Other cases investigated include those involving individuals who die suddenly when in apparent health or those unattended by a physician.

The office also investigates deaths occurring while a person is confined in a public institution other than a hospital, infirmary or nursing home.  Manners of death are classified as natural, accidental, homicide, suicide, or undetermined.   

The Histology laboratory and the Forensic Toxicology laboratory within the Medical Examiner’s Office provide specialized laboratory services in death and DUI, drug facilitated and sexual assault investigations.   

The Medical Examiner's Office generates death certificates as to cause and manner of death. 

The Office also participates in the training programs for:

  • University at Buffalo (SUNY) Medical School's resident doctors
  • University at Buffalo (SUNY) Medical School's  third and fourth year medical students
  • University at Buffalo (SUNY) School of Dental Medicine's fourth year dental school students
  • SUNY Buffalo State's Forensic Chemistry students
  • Hilbert College Forensic Science and Criminal Justice students
  • University at Buffalo (SUNY) Anthropology students
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) students

Revenue enhancing activities are derived through contractual agreements with Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties for forensic autopsy services, and with  Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Jefferson Counties for forensic toxicology assistance.