CHAPTER 175

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 47, TITLE 29, DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO THE BOARD OF POST-MORTEM EXAMINERS.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. § 4742, Title 29 of the Delaware Code is amended to read as follows:

§ 4702. Composition and President of Board

The Board shall consist of the Attorney General, the President of the State Board of Health, the Superintendent of the State Police, the State Auditor, and a physician from each County of the State of Delaware named by the Council of the Medical Society of Delaware. The physicians named by the Council shall serve for terms of four years and may be reappointed. The duly elected Coroner of each county shall be a non-voting member of the Board. The members of the Board shall serve without compensation except for necessary travel expenses, and the Attorney General shall act as President of the Board.

Section 2. § 4705, Title 29 of the Delaware Code is amended to read as follows:

§ 4705. Compensation of Medical Examiner

The Medical Examiner shall be compensated at a rate to be determined by the Board. He shall also be reimbursed for any necessary travel expenses.

Section 3. § 4707 (a), Title 29 of the Delaware Code is amended to read as follows:

(a) The Board may appoint such professional or clerical personnel including Deputy Medical Examiners, clerks and other employees as may be necessary for the proper administration of the Board's functions at such compensation as shall be determined by the Board. The Deputy Medical Examiners or other qualified medical personnel may be authorized by the Board to perform any of the functions of the Medical Examiner.

§ 4709. Office and equipment

The Office of the Medical Examiner shall be maintained in a suitable place which shall be designated by the Board. The Board may maintain more than one office but in such event, no more than one office shall be located in any one county. The Board shall provide or arrange for proper and necessary equipment for use of the Medical Examiner.

Section 5. § 4710 (a) and (b), Title 29 of the Delaware Code, are amended to read as follows:

§ 4710. Investigation of deaths

(a) When any person shall die in this State, as a result of violence, or by suicide, or by casualty if such occurred not longer than one year and one day prior to death, or while under anesthesia, or by abortion or suspected abortion, or by poison or suspicion of poison, or suddenly when in apparent health or when unattended by physician, or in an institution less than 24 hours after admission where a diagnosis cannot be made including death in coma, or from a disease resulting from employment including disease related to injury or from an undiagnosed cause which may be related to a disease constituting a threat to public health, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, or if there is any unclaimed body, or if anybody is to be cremated, it shall be the duty of the person having knowledge of such death or the person issuing a permit for cremation under the provisions of Section 3162 of Title 16, immediately to notify the Coroner or the Medical Examiner, who in turn shall notify the Attorney General, of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner and circumstances of such death.

(b) Immediately upon receipt of such notification, the Coroner shall go to the dead body and, after consultation with the Medical Examiner, the Coroner shall remove same if necessary. The Medical Examiner may take charge of the dead body if either he or the Attorney General shall deem it necessary.

Section 6. § 4710 (d), Title 29 of the Delaware Code, is amended to read as follows:

(d) The Coroner shall take possession of the personal property found on the deceased and cause an exact inventory to be taken of the personal property found on the deceased. The Coroner shall give a copy of such inventory to the Medical Examiner and to any law enforcement officer requesting a copy. The Coroner shall turn over to the Medical Examiner or any law enforcement officer, any personal property of the deceased that is in the possession of the Coroner that the Medical Examiner or law enforcement officer shall request for the purposes of investigation. The balance of the personal property of the deceased remaining in the possession of the Coroner, shall be released to the next of kin of the deceased, or the personal representative of the deceased.

Section 7. § 4710, Title 29 of the Delaware Code is amended by adding a new subsection to read as follows:

(f) It shall be the duty of the Coroner to notify the next of kin of every death which comes to his attention and to give all pertinent information as to the identity of the body and the date of death to any person requesting such information.

Section 8. § 4711 (b), Title 29 of the Delaware Code is amended to read as follows:

(b) The Medical Examiner, the Attorney General, or any other person designated by the Board may order an autopsy to be performed which shall be performed by the Medical Examiner or by such other competent pathologist as may be designated by the Medical Examiner. No person who authorizes or performs an autopsy pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall be liable in any civil action for damages.

Approved August 24, 1961.