When is the Coroner Called
When a patient dies in the hospital or is pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, the hospital and its employees are
mandated by state law to examine each death for the cause of death. It must be determined whether a death meets criteria
for the types of death that are "reportable" as established by the State of Colorado. A call is placed to the coroner's office
by the doctor or nurse and specified information is communicated to the coroner or the coroner's investigator. They then
determine whether the body needs to have an autopsy performed. This is referred to as a "coroner's case". Most of the criteria
for determining a coroner's case addresses the county's need to establish the absolute cause of death.
The Coroner's Office works as a guardian angel of the health, safety, and welfare of your community. We constantly strive
toward the goal of a safer and healthier state. The Coroner is a constitutional office pursuant to the Constitution of Colorado
and state law defines the case which are Coroner cases. (See (30-10-606, C.R.S.)
Origin of the Coroner
A office of the Coroner or "Crowner" dates back to medieval days when the crowner was responsible for looking into deaths
to be sure duties were paid to the King. The coroner's primary duty in contemporary times is to make inquire into the death
and to complete the death certificate.
Reportable Deaths to Coroner's Office
The following types of death are reportable to the Coroner's Office immediately after expiration:
Nothing should be removed or changed on the body of the decedent unless approved by the Coroner, or until the case is released
by the Coroner. If changes are made, evidence may be removed inadvertently and questions raised by physician, families or
attorneys may not then be able to be answered.
- All patient who expire within 24 hours of hospital admission.
- All deaths in which the attending physician has not been in attendance of the decedent within 30 days prior to the death.
- All deaths resulting from accident, suicide, homicides or undetermined cause and manner. For example, falls, poisoning, industrial
accidents, automobile accidents, automobile-pedestrian accidents, battered children, etc., should be reported.
- All deaths that occur in the emergency room, operating room, and during or shortly following a medical procedure.
- Deaths resulting from therapeutic procedures, or deaths possibly related to the procedure
- Deaths resulting from thermal, chemical or radiation injury.
- All cases in which the attending physician is unable or unwilling to certify the cause of death.
- All deaths due to unexplained causes or under suspicious circumstances.
- Deaths resulting from a disease which may be hazardous, contagious, or which may constitute a threat to the health of the
public (Infectious Disease Cases).
- Sudden deaths of persons appearing to be in good health.
- All cases in which trauma is, or may be associated with the death. Cases where the patient entered the medical facility due
to trauma. Cases should be promptly reported even though death may be attributed only indirectly to the trauma.
- All deaths while in custody of law enforcement officials or while incarcerated in a public institution.
If the facility or physician is unsure as to whether a case is a Coroner case, call the Arapahoe County Coroner's office and
we will be happy to provide you with a list of what is reportable. What is a reportable case and how cases are handled by
the Coroner, may vary on you county Coroner's policy and procedures. Contact the Coroner in the county where you live with
**Thank you to the Denver Coroner's Office for supplying this list.