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Medical Examiner

The Schenectady County Medical Examiner’s Office is part of the Public Health Services Department. A medical examiner is a licensed physician with special training in death investigation who serves in the public interest to investigate all reported deaths that are not attended by a physician and those that may not be natural in manner.

Type of Reportable Death

New York State County Law requires that the Medical Examiner investigate the circumstances and determine the cause and manner of all reportable deaths. 

Reportable deaths include: 

  • A violent death, whether by criminal violence, suicide or casualty;
  • A death caused by unlawful act or criminal neglect;
  • A death occurring in a suspicious, unusual, or unexplained manner;
  • A death while unattended by a physician, so far as can be discovered, or where no physician able to certify the cause of death as provided in the public health law and in form as prescribed by the commissioner of health can be found;
  • A death of a person confined in a public institution other than a hospital, infirmary, or nursing home. 


What does the Medical Examiner Do? 

Death Investigation

Investigation services are provided by a team of professional investigators. Service is provided 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. 

The Investigation Team: 

  • Performs scene responses and subsequent investigations to determine specifics surrounding deaths that occur in the county.
  • Provides for the transportation of human remains to facilitate further examination.
  • Gathers evidence and specimens for testing.

An autopsy is a surgical procedure that is performed to help establish the cause and manner of death. The Medical Examiner determines whether an autopsy is performed based on the circumstances. In most of all cases, the performance of an autopsy will not affect the viewing preferences of next-of-kin.

The autopsy team: 

  • Performs forensic autopsies to establish cause and manner of death.
  • Collects and documents evidence collection for legal proceedings.

A toxicology screen is conducted to evaluate possible overdose or poisoning. This can help determine the cause of the passing. The Medical Examiner determines whether a toxicology screen is performed based on the circumstances. 

The toxicology team: 

  • Performs chemical analyses on samples obtained during investigation and autopsy.

Loved Ones: 

We are committed to assisting you during this difficult time. As soon as possible, please contact a funeral director/home. As per state law, the person who passed must be released from the medical examiner at Ellis Hospital to a licensed funeral director. The medical examiner is prohibited from recommending a funeral home.


Be sure to contact the Medical Examiner Office of the county in which the person passed away, not the county of residence. Please note: Confidential information is not shared over the phone. After verification, it is shared by mail.

Requesting a Medical Examiner Report:

Call Schenectady County Public Health Services at 518-386-2810

If you are next-of-kin, please contact Schenectady County Public Health. To request information, a letter must be submitted. After verification, information is shared by mail. 

Please contact the Medical Examiner Office of the county in which the death occurred, not the county of residence.


What is a Death Certificate

A death certificate is a legal document issued by the government that includes information about the person's passing. A death certificate can be requested online. You will be redirected to a third-party website, not affiliated with Schenectady County.

Request a Death Certificate

Who is eligible to get a copy of a death certificate?

  • The spouse, parent, child, or sibling of the deceased
  • Other people who have a documented lawful right or claim documented medical need
  • If you are not the spouse, parent, child, or sibling of the person who passed, you must document a lawful right or claim

What identification needs to be submitted by the person requesting?
Applications must be submitted with copies of either A or B:

A. One of the following forms of valid photo-ID:

  • Driver's license
  • State-issued, nondriver photo-ID card
  • Passport
  • U.S. Military-issued, photo-ID


B. Two of the following showing the applicant's name and address:

  • Utility or telephone bill
  • Letter from a government agency dated within the last six months
  • Submit a copy of your U.S. passport in addition to the above ID if you are applying from a foreign country that requires a passport for travel.