County Coroners and Their Role in the Heart of the Opioid Epidemic
ABSTRACT: As drug- and opiate/opioid-related deaths continue to rise in the Midwest, we must look at how the type of death investigation in these areas is affected and taxed by the increase. Many states with a large rural component rely on a local coroner system, where death investigation lacks uniformity and requirements for coroner investigative personnel are extremely variable. This has mixed implications for communities and potentially affects law enforcement and prosecution, data collection, and public policy. Both coroner and medical examiner systems benefit from strong leadership, properly trained personnel, and fiscal support. However, operational differences amongst jurisdictions should be addressed so that all stakeholders ultimately receive optimal data. This paper discusses the coroner system of death investigation in one Midwest state (Ohio) in the context of the region’s burgeoning opiate/opioid epidemic and suggests opportunities for improvement.