Outside the Office of the Medical Investigator

Providing Answers

Office of the Medical Investigator Does Not Charge Families for Its Services

The grieving process for a loved one after a death is never easy. The Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) is there to try to make this challenging time as easy as possible.

The OMI offers grief counseling and case managers to help guide families through the process and works with funeral homes and the family to honor the decedent’s wishes. 

Here are some things they won’t do. OMI will not charge a family of a decedent any fee for cases that are under OMI’s jurisdiction. What cases are under OMI’s jurisdiction? Unattended deaths, suspicious deaths or deaths where a physician chooses not to sign the death certificate.

“Fees are charged when we are contracted to do an autopsy,” said Chief Medical Investigator Heather Jarrell, MD. “These are cases where the family is paying for an autopsy, or a Bureau of Indian Affairs agency is contracting with us for an autopsy case.

“The OMI exists to serve decedents and strives to provide answers to the living. We do not charge storage fees to family members and we currently do not charge storage fees to funeral homes.”

If a family works with a funeral home, OMI has no control over the fees that funeral homes may change to families, but no fees are transferred to OMI or used to pay OMI for its services. If a decedent has been cremated through the indigent process there may be a fee to claim the remains from the county where the cremation took place. That fee is paid to the county – and again, no funds are sent to OMI.

OMI processes approximately 8,000 death investigations a year (and more than 10,000 death investigations in 2021). It has the most active CT scanner in the United States, which aids in ensuring pathologists can determine a cause of death. In many cases it can allow them to respect the cultural or religious beliefs of the family and avoid a full autopsy.

Do you have more questions about OMI’s services? Check out their website.

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