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Should Coroners Be Doctors?

Maryland Cremation Services transporter Reggie Elliott brings the remains of a COVID-19 victim to his van from the hospital's morgue in Baltimore, Maryland, on Dec. 24, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)
Maryland Cremation Services transporter Reggie Elliott brings the remains of a COVID-19 victim to his van from the hospital's morgue in Baltimore, Maryland, on Dec. 24, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

When somebody dies unexpectedly or under suspicious circumstances, it’s often a coroner who has the final say over what caused their death.

But in many states, coroners — unlike medical examiners — are not required to have medical degrees.

That’s been a cause for criticism from many doctors and public health experts for years, and now they say it’s complicating efforts to respond to the pandemic, too.

Here & Now‘s Tonya Mosley speaks with Kate Wong, senior editor at Scientific American and author of an editorial headlined “Those Who Investigate Premature Deaths Should Have Medical Training.”

Mosley also hears from John Fudenberg, executive director of The International Association of Coroners & Medical Examiners, who responds to the Scientific American editorial.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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