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Medical Examiner's Office

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The Medical Examiner's Office (MEO) has a unique and highly specialized mission: to provide comprehensive death investigation to Philadelphia residents.

The Philadelphia MEO consists of several specialized units, each of which contributes specific information to each case. The pathologists then assemble all of the information to determine the cause and manner of death for each case.


Forensic Investigation »
Determines whether or not a death comes under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner and investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths

Forensic Technician »
Responsible for intake and release of decedents as well as transporting decedents from hospitals and death scenes to the Medical Examiner's Office

Pathology »
Determines both the cause and manner of death in each and every case that comes under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner

Toxicology Laboratory »
Provides analyses of postmortem specimens for drugs of abuse, prescription drugs and poisons

Histology »
Responsible for preparation of tissue slides for microscopic analysis

Forensic Odontology »
Assists in the evaluation of bite marks and when identification by dental records is necessary

Forensic Anthropology »
Assists in identification of the deceased

Fatality Review Program »
Conducts a comprehensive review of deaths in order to identify ways to prevent future injuries and deaths in Philadelphia residents

Bereavement Support Services »
Provides crisis intervention and support services to all families who pass through the Medical Examiner’s Office after the loss of a loved one

Services for Non-English Speakers

Translation and interpretation services are available in our office at no cost.

Records Requests
DNA/Paternity Testing Information
Other Resources
College Students



The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office was established as part of the City Charter in 1951. The Office of the Coroner (an elected office) was abolished and the powers and duties of the Coroner were given to a Medical Examiner to be appointed by the Health Commissioner. In Philadelphia, the Medical Examiner is a physician with special training and experience in the field of forensic pathology.

The City's first Medical Examiner, Joseph Spelman, M.D., served from 1953 until his death in 1971. The original Medical Examiner's Office building was located at 13th & Wood Streets. The current location opened in 1971 and was named in honor of Dr. Spelman.