About the Medical Examiner's Office
The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office (MEO) is the only Medical Examiner system in Illinois with a jurisdiction of approximately 5.2 million people, roughly 45% of Illinois' population. The MEO plays a vital role in the administration of justice and protection of public health. More than 16,000 deaths are reported to the MEO annually. Of these, around 5,600 are accepted for further investigation. The office performs autopsies on approximately half of the cases brought into the Institute.
As a result of a 1972 referendum, the Office of the Medical Examiner of Cook County was established December 6, 1976, and the Office of the Coroner was abolished.
Robert J. Stein, M.D. was appointed as the first Medical Examiner in 1976 and served until his retirement in 1993. The Cook County Institute of Forensic Medicine, completed in 1983, was renamed the Robert J. Stein Institute of Forensic Medicine in February 1994.
The MEO investigates any human death that falls within any or all of the following categories:
- criminal violence
- suddenly when in apparent good condition
- unattended by a practicing licensed physician
- suspicious or unusual circumstances
- unlawful fetal death as provided in Public Act 101-0013 of the 101st General Assembly of Illinois
- poisoning or attributable to an adverse reaction to drugs and/or alcohol
- disease constituting a threat to public health
- injury or toxic agent resulting from employment
- during some medical diagnostic or therapeutic procedures
- in any prison or penal institution
- when involuntarily confined in jail, prison hospitals or other institutions or in police custody
- when any human body is to be cremated, dissected or buried at sea
when a dead body is brought into a new medico-legal jurisdiction without proper medical certification
Ensure public health and safety by performing autopsies and postmortem examinations to determine cause and manner of death for individuals who die in Cook County.
Items that can be provided by the MEO:
- Certificate of Death (to funeral directors for filing with local registrar)
- Autopsy Protocol (description of what is found at autopsy)
- Toxicology Report (lists any foreign substance found in body)
- Special Study Reports (if applicable)
- Cremation Permits (to funeral directors)
Press and Media Inquiries:
The Medical Examiner's Office operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The office is open to the general public: 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for official Cook County holidays.
11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., weekends and official Cook County holidays.
Any concerns or complaints can be submitted to Medical.Examiner@cookcountyil.gov
for permits, records and more
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