Forensic Medicine/Sudden Death Investigation

If you’re a second or subsequent year medical student who’s considering a career in general practice, emergency medicine or pathology, this elective university course is for you.

It lets you participate in the:

  • review of the circumstances of sudden unexplained or unexpected deaths
  • review of the medical history of the decedents, and
  • observation of gross and microscopic autopsy findings

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) investigates approximately 4,000 unexpected or unexplained deaths each year. About half of them require an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.

To schedule an elective

Contact the OCME


To learn:

  • and understand the role of medical examiners / forensic pathologists in the investigation of sudden death
  • the importance of scene investigation, history and autopsy in determining the cause and manner of death
  • the attending physician's role and responsibilities in death certification
  • the definitions of cause, manner and mechanisms of death, and how to properly complete a death certificate
  • the role of the external examination in sudden death investigation
  • the importance and methods of collecting toxicology specimens at the time of examination


This elective course takes place over one to four weeks.