130A-385. Duties of medical examiner upon receipt of notice; reports; copies.

(a) Upon receipt of a notification under G.S. 130A-383, the medical examiner shall take charge of the body, make inquiries regarding the cause and manner of death, reduce the findings to writing and promptly make a full report to the Chief Medical Examiner on forms prescribed for that purpose.

The Chief Medical Examiner or the county medical examiner is authorized to inspect and copy the medical records of the decedent whose death is under investigation. In addition, in an investigation conducted pursuant to this Article, the Chief Medical Examiner or the county medical examiner is authorized to inspect all physical evidence and documents which may be relevant to determining the cause and manner of death of the person whose death is under investigation, including decedent's personal possessions associated with the death, clothing, weapons, tissue and blood samples, cultures, medical equipment, X rays and other medical images. The Chief Medical Examiner or county medical examiner is further authorized to seek an administrative search warrant pursuant to G.S. 15-27.2 for the purpose of carrying out the duties imposed under this Article. In addition to the requirements of G.S. 15-27.2, no administrative search warrant shall be issued pursuant to this section unless the Chief Medical Examiner or county medical examiner submits an affidavit from the office of the district attorney in the district in which death occurred stating that the death in question is not under criminal investigation.

The Chief Medical Examiner shall provide directions as to the nature, character and extent of an investigation and appropriate forms for the required reports. The facilities of the central and district offices and their staff services shall be available to the medical examiners and designated pathologists in their investigations.

(b) The medical examiner shall complete a certificate of death, stating the name of the disease which in his opinion caused death. If the death was from external causes, the medical examiner shall state on the certificate of death the means of death, and whether, in the medical examiner's opinion, the manner of death was accident, suicide, homicide, execution by the State, or undetermined. The medical examiner shall also furnish any information as may be required by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in order to properly classify the death.

(c) The Chief Medical Examiner shall have authority to amend a medical examiner death certificate.

(d) A copy of the report of the medical examiner investigation may be forwarded to the appropriate district attorney.

(e) In cases where death occurred due to an injury received in the course of the decedent's employment, the Chief Medical Examiner shall forward to the Commissioner of Labor a copy of the medical examiner's report of the investigation, including the location of the fatal injury and the name and address of the decedent's employer at the time of the fatal injury. The Chief Medical Examiner shall forward this report within 30 days of receipt of the information from the medical examiner.

(f) If a death occurred in a facility licensed subject to Article 2 or Article 3 of Chapter 122C of the General Statutes, or Articles 1 or 1A of Chapter 131D of the General Statutes, and the deceased was a client or resident of the facility or a recipient of facility services at the time of death, then the Chief Medical Examiner shall forward a copy of the medical examiner's report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services within 30 days of receipt of the report from the medical examiner. (1955, c. 972, s. 1; 1957, c. 1357, s. 1; 1967, c. 1154, s. 1; 1973, c. 476, s. 128; 1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1145; 1983, c. 891, s. 2; 1989, c. 353, s. 2; c. 797; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 894, s. 6; 2000-129, s. 4.)