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Medical Examiner

Program Overview

It is the mission of the Erie County Medical Examiner’s (ME) Office to serve the public in a professional, confidential and courteous manner in the medico-legal investigation of deaths in Western New York counties, thereby enhancing our understanding of death and dying.  

Our objectives are to work diligently to determine the cause and manner of death of our constituents, and to convey those findings in a timely fashion to families and to such agencies in the health and legal communities that have ongoing concerns related to the deceased and their survivors.

The Office of the Medical Examiner is organized into four sections:

  1. Forensic Pathology
  2. Field Investigation
  3. Forensic Toxicology
  4. Forensic Anthropology

The Forensic Toxicology laboratory within the Medical Examiner’s Office provides specialized laboratory services in death and DUI, drug facilitated and sexual assault investigations.

The Medical Examiner's Office generates death certificates as to cause and manner of death. Manners of death are classified as natural, accidental, homicide, suicide, or undetermined. 

Types of Reportable Deaths

As mandated by law, the Medical Examiner’ Office is responsible for investigating the death of any person who dies within Erie County as a result of:

  • All forms of criminal violence or from an unlawful act or criminal neglect.
  • All accidents (motor vehicle, industrial, home, public place, etc.).
  • All suicides.
  • All deaths that were caused or contributed to by drug and/or chemical overdose or “poisoning”.
  • Sudden death of a person in apparently good health.
  • Deaths which occur unattended by a physician and where no physician can be found to certify the cause of death.
  • Deaths of all persons in legal detention, jails or police custody. This category also includes any prisoner who is a patient in a hospital, regardless of the duration of hospital confinement.
  • When a fetus is born dead in the absence of a physician or midwife.
  • Deaths due to disease, injury or toxic agent resulting from employment.
  • Dead bodies brought into the County without proper medical certification.
  • Deaths which occur in any suspicious or unusual manner.

Autopsy Report Request

The information contained within an autopsy report is confidential and treated as a medical record. 

Complete the Autopsy Report Request Form.  One copy of the final report is available at no charge to the immediate and legal next of kin (spouse, adult child, parent, adult sibling or grandparent).

If there is a request for a copy of the report from someone other than those legally entitled (e.g. insurance company or private attorney), the request must be submitted by mail on their letterhead and include a HIPPA authorization form signed by the legal next of kin as well as a check for $50.00 (made payable to the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office). 

Autopsy reports are NOT given out until the case file is complete. This process can take up to 4 months. If additional testing is needed or the autopsy report contains sensitive material that could jeopardize a criminal investigation, there may be an additional delay before it is released.

The Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office also participates in the training programs for:

  • University at Buffalo (SUNY) Medical School's resident doctors
  • University at Buffalo (SUNY) Medical School's third and fourth year medical students
  • University at Buffalo (SUNY) School of Dental Medicine's fourth year dental school students
  • SUNY Buffalo State's Forensic Chemistry students
  • Hilbert College Forensic Science and Criminal Justice students
  • University at Buffalo (SUNY) Anthropology students
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) students

Revenue enhancing activities are derived through contractual agreements with Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties for forensic autopsy services, and with Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties for forensic toxicology assistance.  

Organ, Tissue and Eye Donation

The Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office works collaboratively with Connect Life to honor families’ wishes regarding authorization for donation of organs, tissues and eyes from their family member, while maintaining the integrity of the Office's medico-legal responsibilities.

It is with rare exception that the procurement of organs, tissues and eyes is denied by the Erie County Medical Examiner’s office. 
For further information on organ and tissue donations, contact Connect Life at 716-529-4300.


See Medical Examiner's Office Internship Information & Application (unavailable at this time)

Contact Information

501 Kensington Ave. 
Buffalo, NY 14214 
Telephone: (716) 961-7591 
Fax: (716) 961-7581 

Tara J. Mahar, MD, Chief Medical Examiner 
Katherine F. Maloney, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner 
Janinne Blank, MBA, RN, Director, Division of Medical Examiner