Welcome to the Polk County Medical Examiner Site
The death of a loved one can cause tremendous stress and sorrow. We hope the information
provided on this website will assist you during the grieving process and help answer
any questions about the autopsy process and the medicolegal system.
What is a Medical Examiner Case?
Chapter 331 of the Code of Iowa, Part 8 clearly defines which cases fall under the
jurisdiction of medical examiners. Medical examiner cases include sudden, unexpected,
violent or unnatural deaths, and other deaths “affecting the public interest.” The
definition of which deaths must be INVESTIGATED by medical examiners actually restricts
those deaths which may be certified by physicians who are not medical examiners.
Any death in which the manner of death is NOT natural, or any death in which the
decedent was NOT seen by a physician within the previous 36 hours (lengthened to
30 days when the decedent had a diagnosed terminal or bedfast condition) MUST be
INVESTIGATED by a medical examiner.