Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 58
Coroners and Inquests
Section 58.720

August 28, 2014


Medical examiner, certain counties, to investigate, when--death certificate issued, when--place of death--two counties involved, how determined--efforts to accommodate organ donation.

58.720. 1. When any person dies within a county having a medical examiner as a result of:

(1) Violence by homicide, suicide, or accident;

(2) Thermal, chemical, electrical, or radiation injury;

(3) Criminal abortions, including those self-induced;

(4) Disease thought to be of a hazardous and contagious nature or which might constitute a threat to public health; or when any person dies:

(a) Suddenly when in apparent good health;

(b) When unattended by a physician, chiropractor, or an accredited Christian Science practitioner, during the period of thirty-six hours immediately preceding his death;

(c) While in the custody of the law, or while an inmate in a public institution;

(d) In any unusual or suspicious manner; the police, sheriff, law enforcement officer or official, or any person having knowledge of such a death shall immediately notify the office of the medical examiner of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner and circumstances of the death. Immediately upon receipt of notification, the medical examiner or his designated assistant shall take charge of the dead body and fully investigate the essential facts concerning the medical causes of death. He may take the names and addresses of witnesses to the death and shall file this information in his office. The medical examiner or his designated assistant shall take possession of all property of value found on the body, making exact inventory thereof on his report and shall direct the return of such property to the person entitled to its custody or possession. The medical examiner or his designated assistant examiner shall take possession of any object or article which, in his opinion, may be useful in establishing the cause of death, and deliver it to the prosecuting attorney of the county.

2. When a death occurs outside a licensed health care facility, the first licensed medical professional or law enforcement official learning of such death shall contact the county medical examiner. Immediately upon receipt of such notification, the medical examiner or the medical examiner's deputy shall make a determination if further investigation is necessary, based on information provided by the individual contacting the medical examiner, and immediately advise such individual of the medical examiner's intentions.

3. In any case of sudden, violent or suspicious death after which the body was buried without any investigation or autopsy, the medical examiner, upon being advised of such facts, may at his own discretion request that the prosecuting attorney apply for a court order requiring the body to be exhumed.

4. The medical examiner shall certify the cause of death in any case where death occurred without medical attendance or where an attending physician refuses to sign a certificate of death, and may sign a certificate of death in the case of any death.

5. When the cause of death is established by the medical examiner, he shall file a copy of his findings in his office within thirty days after notification of the death.

6. (1) When a person is being transferred from one county to another county for medical treatment and such person dies while being transferred, or dies while being treated in the emergency room of the receiving facility, the place which the person is determined to be dead shall be considered the place of death and the county coroner or the medical examiner of the county from which the person was originally being transferred shall be responsible for determining the cause and manner of death for the Missouri certificate of death.

(2) The coroner or medical examiner in the county in which the person is determined to be dead may, with authorization of the coroner or medical examiner from the transferring county, investigate and conduct postmortem examinations at the expense of the coroner or medical examiner from the transferring county. The coroner or medical examiner from the transferring county shall be responsible for investigating the circumstances of such and completing the Missouri certificate of death. The certificate of death shall be filed in the county where the deceased was pronounced dead.

(3) Such coroner or medical examiner, or the county where a person is determined to be dead, shall immediately notify the coroner or medical examiner of the county from which the person was originally being transferred of the death of such person and shall make available information and records obtained for investigation of death.

(4) If a person does not die while being transferred and is institutionalized as a regularly admitted patient after such transfer and subsequently dies while in such institution, the coroner or medical examiner of the county in which the person is determined to be dead shall immediately notify the coroner or medical examiner of the county from which such person was originally transferred of the death of such person. In such cases, the county in which the deceased was institutionalized shall be considered the place of death. If the manner of death is by homicide, suicide, accident, criminal abortion including those that are self-induced, child fatality, or any unusual or suspicious manner, the investigation of the cause and manner of death shall revert to the county of origin, and this coroner or medical examiner shall be responsible for the Missouri certificate of death. The certificate of death shall be filed in the county where the deceased was pronounced dead.

7. There shall not be any statute of limitations or time limits on cause of death when death is the final result or determined to be caused by homicide, suicide, accident, criminal abortion including those self-induced, child fatality, or any unusual or suspicious manner. The place of death shall be the place in which the person is determined to be dead, but the final investigation of death determining the cause and manner of death shall revert to the county of origin, and this coroner or medical examiner shall be responsible for the Missouri certificate of death. The certificate of death shall be filed in the county where the deceased was pronounced dead.

8. Except as provided in subsection 6 of this section, if a person dies in one county and the body is subsequently transferred to another county, for burial or other reasons, the county coroner or medical examiner where the death occurred shall be responsible for the certificate of death and for investigating the cause and manner of the death.

9. In performing the duties, the coroner or medical examiner shall comply with sections 58.775 to 58.785 with respect to organ donation.

(L. 1973 S.B. 122 ยงยง 7, 8, A.L. 1989 S.B. 389, A.L. 1990 H.B. 1416, A.L. 1996 H.B. 811, A.L. 2008 S.B. 1139)


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