When to Report a Death

If the death occurs when in apparent good health or in any suspicious or unusual manner including:

  • Asphyxiation by gagging on foreign substance, including food in airway; compression of the airway or chest by hand, material, or ligature; drowning; handling cyanide; exclusion of oxygen; carbon monoxide; and/or other gasses causing suffocation.
  • Blows or other forms of mechanical violence
  • Burns from fire, liquid, chemical, radiation or electricity Carbon monoxide poisoning. (Resulting from natural gas, automobile exhaust or other.)
  • Cutting, stabbing or gunshot wounds.
  • Death from electrocution.
  • Drowning (actual or suspected).
  • Drug overdose from medication, chemical or poison ingestion, (actual or suspected). This includes any medical substance, narcotic or alcoholic beverage, whether sudden, short or long term survival has occurred.
  • Electrical shock
  • Explosion
  • Falls, including hip fractures or other injury.
  • Firearm injuries
  • Stillborn or newborn infant death where there is a recent or past traumatic event involving the mother, such as vehicular accident, homicide, suicide attempt, or drug ingestion that may have precipitated delivery or had a detrimental effect to the newborn.
  • Vehicular accidents, including auto, bus, train, motorcycle, bicycle, watercraft, snowmobile or aircraft, including driver, passenger, or related non-passenger, (e.g. such as being struck by parts flying or thrown from a vehicle).
  • Weather related death (e.g. lightning, heat exhaustion, hypothermia or tornado).

By any means, suspected or known.

By any means, suspected or known.

Instances in which the environment of present or past employment may have caused or contributed to death by trauma or disease. Deaths in this classification include caisson disease (bends), industrial infections, pneumoconiosis, present or past exposure to toxic waste or product (e.g. nuclear products, asbestos or coal dust), fractures, burns or any other injury received during employment or as a result of past employment, which may have contributed to death.

If the death occurs when in apparent good health or in any suspicious or unusual manner including:

  • DOA – Any person pronounced dead on arrival at any hospital, emergency room of a hospital or doctor’s office shall be reported.
  • Infants and young children –  Any infant or young child found dead shall be reported, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ( or Crib Death).
  • All stillborn infants where there is suspected or actual injury to the mother.
  • All deaths occurring within 24 hours of admission to a hospital unless the patient has been under the continuous care of a physician.
  • Deaths occurring while in any jail, confinement or custody.
  • Deaths under unknown circumstances whenever there are no witnesses or where little or no information can be elicited concerning the deceased person.
  • Sudden death on the street, at home, in a public place, or at place of employment.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Drug abuse, habitual use of drugs or drug addiction.

Any death involving allegations of suspicious medical malpractice or possibly poor medical/surgical care.

  • Any maternal or infant death where there is suspicious or illegal interference by unethical or unqualified persons or self-induction.
  • “Delayed death,” an unusual type of case, where the immediate cause of death may actually be from natural disease. However, injury may have occurred days, weeks, months, or even years before death and is responsible for initiating the sequence of medical conditions or events leading to death. This would be considered a Coroner’s case and is therefore reportable. The most common examples of this type of case are 1) past traffic accidents with debilitating injury and long-term care in a nursing home and 2) hip fractures of the elderly where there is a downward course of condition after the injury.
  • Death occurring under the influence of anesthesia, during the anesthetic induction, during the post-anesthetic period without the patient regaining consciousness (including death following long-term survival if the original incident is thought to be related to the surgical procedure and/or anesthetic agent).
  • Death during or following any diagnostic or therapeutic procedure, whether medical or survival time, if death is thought to be directly related to the procedure or complications from said procedure.
  • Death due to the administration of a drug, serum, vaccine, or any other substance for any diagnostic, therapeutic or immunological purpose.
  • Any Death Where There is a Doubt, Question or Suspicion Not all reported cases fall into the above noted categories. After the investigation is completed, many will be returned to the jurisdiction or institution where the death certificate will be signed by the attending physician as a natural death.

Only the Coroner can legally sign a death certificate of a person who has died as a direct or indirect result of any cause listed in the previously noted reportable deaths.

How to Report a Death

Call your county coroner to report a death

In order to report a death, call the Office of your respective County Coroner, day or night, and state “I wish to report a death.” You will be asked to provide the following information:

  • Name and address of the deceased
  • Age and date of birth
  • Sex and race
  • Social Security number
  • Marital status
  • Next-of-kin, name, address, phone number
  • Place and manner of occurrence
  • Date and time of occurrence
  • Date and time of death
  • Name of person pronouncing death
  • Name of person reporting death
  • Any other information which may be helpful
  • Location of the body
  • Name of funeral home

Frequently Asked Questions


This procedure is handled differently by various Counties. However, in most cases, a signed death certificate accompanies the body when it is released by the Coroner. When there is insufficient information available to complete the death certificate, a ìPending Findings, Fact and Verdictî death certificate is issued that accompanies the body. This death certificate enables the funeral services and burial to take place while additional chemical, microscopic slide preparation and examination, and investigation continues. At the culmination of these tests and investigation, the ruling is made based on all available information. A supplemental death certificate is then issued with the cause of death and ruling which supersedes the ìPendingî death certificate.

The autopsy report, also called the protocol, usually takes about four weeks to be completed after the autopsy. If microscopic and chemical tests are performed, this time period can lengthen to six to eight weeks.

Usually, the clothing of the deceased is released to the funeral director for disposal or use as the family requests. In cases of homicide, various suicides, or vehicular deaths, the clothing may be held by the Coroner or the investigating law enforcement agency for use as evidence.

Most often, the next-of-kin discusses the selection of the funeral director with the other family members, clergy or friends. The Office of the Coroner is prohibited from recommending a funeral director. A listing of funeral directors is available in the telephone book as well as other sources.

An autopsy is a systematic examination by a qualified physician of the body of a deceased person for the purpose of determining the cause of death. A record is made of the findings of the autopsy, including microscopic and toxicologic laboratory tests. These laboratory tests are conducted before the release of the body to the next-of-kin for burial. There is no charge to the next-of-kin for an autopsy, nor for any of the tests that may be conducted by the Coroner.

Ohio Law (ORC 2108-52) provides that the Coroner does not need permission for an autopsy. The Office of the Coroner will attempt to comply with the wishes of the next-of-kin, provided this does not conflict with the duties of the Coroner as charged by Ohio Law including due regard for the deceasedís religious persuasion.

Not all persons brought to the Coronerís Office are autopsied. Certain cases are not autopsied where no ìfoul playî is suspected and evidence of a natural death is present. In other cases where the possibility of legal proceedings may arise as a result of a homicide, accident, suicide, etc., an autopsy will be performed. In these cases, both positive and negative information ordinarily is found which substantiates the ruling and cause of death as signed by the Coroner. Under a recent change in the Ohio Revised Code, any child under the age of two years that is referred to the Coronerís Office with no known potentially lethal disease shall be autopsied unless contrary to the parentís religious beliefs. (ORC 313.131)

The remains of deceased persons are brought to the Coronerís Office because Ohio Law requires that the Coroner investigate deaths of persons dying from criminal violence, by accident, by suicide, suddenly, when unattended by a physician for a reasonable period of time, in detention, or in any suspicious or unusual manner. Another reason that a body may be brought to the Coronerís Office is that the identity of the deceased or the next-of-kin is unknown.