HB488 (2007) Detail

(2nd New Title) relative to the state chief medical examiner and medico-legal death investigations.


CHAPTER 324

HB 488-FN-A-LOCAL – FINAL VERSION

07Mar2007… 0215h

11Apr2007… 0975h

06/07/07 2055s

27Jun2007… 2322cofc

27Jun2007… 2385eba

2007 SESSION

07-0450

05/01

HOUSE BILL 488-FN-A-LOCAL

AN ACT relative to the state chief medical examiner and medico-legal death investigations.

SPONSORS: Rep. Franklin, Sull 2; Rep. Osborne, Merr 12; Rep. Hinkle, Hills 19; Sen. D'Allesandro, Dist 20; Sen. Odell, Dist 8

COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety

AMENDED ANALYSIS

This bill:

I. Repeals RSA 611, relative to medical examiners, and RSA 611-A, relative to the office of chief medical examiner, and recodifies the responsibilities of the office of the chief medical examiner and the procedure for medico-legal death investigations in one new chapter, RSA 611-B.

II. Establishes a classified administrative support position for the office of chief medical examiner.

III. Defines the financial responsibility of the state and the counties, respectively, for payment of the costs associated with autopsies.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

07Mar2007… 0215h

11Apr2007… 0975h

06/07/07 2055s

27Jun2007… 2322cofc

27Jun2007… 2385eba

07-0450

05/01

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven

AN ACT relative to the state chief medical examiner and medico-legal death investigations.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

324:1 New Chapter; Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 611-A the following new chapter:

CHAPTER 611-B

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER

611-B:1 Definitions. In this chapter:

I. “Acting chief medical examiner” means the physician designated pursuant to RSA 611-B:4.

II. “Assistant deputy medical examiner” means a person appointed by the chief medical examiner pursuant to RSA 611-B:5.

III. “Chief medical examiner” means the licensed physician certified by the American Board of Pathology as a qualified pathologist and appointed pursuant to RSA 611-B:2.

IV. “Death investigation” means an investigation conducted by a medical examiner pursuant to this chapter, which may involve one or more of the following: a telephone consultation, investigation of the scene of death, or post-mortem examination.

V. “Deputy chief medical examiner” means the licensed physician certified by the American Board of Pathology as a qualified pathologist and appointed pursuant to RSA 611-B:3.

VI. “Designee” means the medical examiner designated by the chief medical examiner to act on behalf of the chief medical examiner, who shall be either the deputy chief medical examiner or the acting chief medical examiner.

VII. “Medical examiner” means any person authorized pursuant to RSA 611-B to investigate medico-legal cases.

VIII. “Post-mortem examination” means any external or internal examination of a decedent’s body.

IX. “Supervising medical examiner” means the chief medical examiner, deputy chief medical examiner, or acting chief medical examiner.

X. “Telephone consultation” means a type of death investigation that does not involve a visual examination of the deceased by the medical examiner.

611-B:2 Chief Medical Examiner; Authority; Rulemaking.

I. There is hereby established within the department of justice the office of chief medical examiner. The office shall be under the immediate supervision of a person who shall be known as the “chief medical examiner,” and who shall be a duly licensed physician and certified by the American Board of Pathology to possess special competence in forensic pathology and who has had experience in forensic medicine. The chief medical examiner shall be nominated by the attorney general and appointed by the governor and council and shall serve for a term of 5 years and until a successor is appointed, unless sooner removed by the governor and council for cause in accordance with the provisions of RSA 4:1. The chief medical examiner shall be subject to direction and control by the attorney general in all matters relating to the enforcement of the criminal law. The chief medical examiner shall enforce the provisions of this chapter. The chief medical examiner or designee shall be continually available for emergency consultation as necessary for carrying out the functions of this office.

II. The chief medical examiner shall have the authority to adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, relative to:

(a) The methods and procedures for medico-legal death investigations.

(b) The examination of substances taken from dead bodies or human remains in order to determine the manner of death, provided that such examinations shall be conducted, whenever possible, at existing qualified state facilities.

(c) Training and certification of medical examiners under RSA 611-B.

(d) The fee schedule for medical examiners under RSA 611-B.

(e) Forms, blank returns, and other documents necessary for medical examiners to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

611-B:3 Deputy Chief Medical Examiner. There is hereby established within the office of chief medical examiner the position of deputy chief medical examiner. The deputy chief medical examiner shall be appointed in the same manner as the chief medical examiner as provided in RSA 611-B:2, and shall be a licensed physician, certified by the American Board of Pathology as a qualified pathologist, with training and experience in forensic medicine. The deputy chief medical examiner shall serve under the professional direction and supervision of the chief medical examiner and shall act as the chief medical examiner whenever the latter is absent, or unable to act for any cause.

611-B:4 Acting Chief Medical Examiner. The chief medical examiner may designate in writing an acting chief medical examiner who shall be a licensed physician, certified by the American Board of Pathology as a qualified pathologist with training and experience in forensic medicine. The acting chief medical examiner shall act as the chief medical examiner whenever the chief medical examiner and the deputy chief medical examiner are absent, or unable to act from any cause.

611-B:5 Assistant Deputy Medical Examiners. The chief medical examiner shall appoint assistant deputy medical examiners to perform the duties of medical examiner under this chapter. Assistant deputy medical examiners shall serve without geographic restriction. An assistant deputy medical examiner shall be a person educated in the science of medicine and shall serve under the direction and supervision of the chief medical examiner. An assistant deputy medical examiner shall possess all the powers granted to medical examiners under this chapter and be sworn in the same manner. Assistant deputy medical examiners shall serve at the pleasure of the chief medical examiner.

611-B:6 Indemnification of Medical Examiner. The provisions of RSA 99-D shall apply to the chief medical examiner and any other medical examiner or investigator employed in the office of the chief medical examiner for claims arising from the scope of their official duties, including, but not limited to, the practice of forensic pathology and the practice of clinical forensic medicine.

611-B:7 Supervision. The chief medical examiner shall have general supervision over the administration of and shall enforce the provisions of this chapter. Medical examiners shall serve under the professional direction and supervision of the chief medical examiner.

611-B:8 Affiliation and Training.

I. The chief medical examiner shall have the authority to enter into agreements, subject to approval of the attorney general and governor and council, with state departments and with any public or private college or university, school of medicine, or hospital for the use of certain laboratories, morgues, and other technical facilities, and, pursuant to such agreements, shall have authority to make medical examiners available to such educational institutions for the teaching of legal medicine and other subjects closely related to their duties.

II. The chief medical examiner and, at the chief medical examiner’s direction, other medical examiners shall assist in the training of police officers in police training programs authorized by the police standards and training council under RSA 188-F:22 through RSA 188-F:32.

611-B:9 Temporary Expert Assistance. The supervising medical examiner shall have authority to call upon and employ such persons, skilled in science, pathology, or otherwise, as are necessary for the performance of duties, as occasion may necessitate.

611-B:10 Administrative and Technical Assistance. The chief medical examiner may employ adequate administrative, clerical, and technical assistants to carry out the purposes of this chapter, all of whom shall be in the classified service of the state.

611-B:11 Oath; Duty to Investigate in Medico-Legal Case.

I. Each medical examiner shall, before entering upon the duties of the office, take an oath of office.

II. A medical examiner shall make investigations in medico-legal cases. A medico-legal case exists when death is pronounced or remains are found indicating that a human has died and that death is known or suspected to have resulted from:

(a) Any death known or suspected to have occurred during or as a result of any criminal act regardless of the time interval between incident and death and regardless of whether criminal violence appears to have been the immediate cause of death or a contributory factor thereto.

(b) Any death by suicide regardless of the time interval between the incident and death.

(c) Any death due to accidental or unintentional injury regardless of the time interval between the incident and death and regardless of whether such injury appears to have been the immediate cause of death or a contributory factor thereto.

(d) Deaths associated with fire or explosion.

(e) Deaths associated with firearms or other mortal weapons.

(f) Any death which occurs in or associated with any public or private conveyance, including but not limited to any motor vehicle, recreational vehicle, bicycle, aircraft, watercraft, motorcycle, bus, train, or the like.

(g) Abortion or the complications thereof if the abortion was known or suspected to have been performed by an unlicensed practitioner.

(h) Poison, illicit drug use, or an overdose of any drug or medication.

(i) Disease, injury, or exposure to a toxic agent resulting from or occurring during the course of employment.

(j) Disease or agent which constitutes a public health hazard or environmental hazard.

(k) Sudden unexpected death when in apparent good health of a person under the age of 60 years.

(l) Death of a person whose medical care has not been regularly followed by a physician.

(m) Death occurring in legal custody, including any death that occurs in any prison or penal institution.

(n) Death associated with diagnostic or therapeutic procedures, including intraoperative and perioperative deaths.

(o) Death in which a body is to be cremated in the state of New Hampshire or buried at sea regardless of the jurisdiction in which the death occurred.

(p) Death occurring less than 24 hours after admission to a health care facility or hospital, except when the decedent was known to have been terminally ill from natural disease and the death is imminent and expected.

(q) Death of a child under the age of 18 years unless the child is known to be terminally ill from natural disease or congenital anomaly and the death is expected.

(r) The death of any child from any cause when such death occurs at a day care facility, or when the child is in foster care, or when the child is in the custody of or being investigated by the department of health and human services.

(s) Fetal deaths that result from intrauterine trauma when the fetus has attained 20 weeks gestation or 350 grams weight.

(t) Death known to have been improperly certified, including but not limited to any remains brought into the state of New Hampshire without proper certification.

(u) Death of any unidentified person regardless of cause and manner.

(v) Discovery of buried remains which are known or thought to be human and which are uncovered other than by an exhumation order.

(w) The discovery of decomposed remains, including partially or completely skeletonized remains.

(x) Suspicious or unusual circumstances surrounding a presumed natural death.

611-B:12 Mandatory Reporting of Medico-Legal Deaths. It shall be the duty of anyone who finds the body of any person whose death is suspected to have been caused or to have occurred in any manner described in RSA 611-B:11, or who finds remains which are thought to be human to immediately notify the medical examiner and the county attorney for the county where the body or remains are found.

611-B:13 Charge of Body. Whenever the medical examiner has notice of the body of a person whose death is supposed to have been caused in a manner described in RSA 611-B:11, the medical examiner shall take charge of the body and may go to the place where such body lies. The medical examiner may authorize the moving of the body.

611-B:14 Survey of Location.

I. Before a body is removed or disturbed, the medical examiner shall make or cause to be made a careful survey of the body and its surroundings, and reduce or cause to be reduced to writing an accurate and detailed description of the location, position, and condition of the body and any other facts concerning the body or its surroundings that will aid in determining the cause and manner of death.

II. A body shall not be altered or disturbed, personal effects shall not be removed or altered, and physical or biological evidence, including samples of blood and other body fluids for analysis, shall not be obtained or collected from the body, without the permission of the medical examiner.

611-B:15 Postmortem Examination.

I. If the medical examiner determines that an external examination of the body is necessary to determine the manner and cause of death, the medical examiner may arrange for the body to be transported to a funeral home or other facility where an examination can be conducted. In the event that the decedent’s family or next of kin does not employ the services of the funeral home or other facility used to transport the body, the cost of that transport shall be billed to the state.

II. In the event an autopsy is ordered, the medical examiner shall arrange for the body to be transported to the morgue. The cost of that transport shall be billed to the state.

III. The medical examiner performing the postmortem examination shall take and preserve, under proper seal, such portions of the body and its contents, together with such other articles that may require subsequent examination in order to determine the manner and cause of death.

611-B:16 Property of Deceased. In all cases arising under the provisions of this chapter, the medical examiner shall take charge of any money and other personal property of the deceased found upon or near the body. Unless held as evidence, all money and other personal property shall be released with the body to the legal next of kin. If any personal property is retained, the medical examiner shall inventory the property on a form prescribed by the chief medical examiner. The inventory shall list the total of any cash received and a complete description of any other items, including quantity and any identifying information. The original inventory form shall be retained on file for a period of at least 5 years by the office of the chief medical examiner, together with the case file. A copy of the inventory form shall be forwarded to the next of kin of the decedent, if that person’s identity is known, either directly or through the funeral home to which the decedent’s body is released.

611-B:17 Performance of Autopsies.

I. If the supervising medical examiner, attorney general, or county attorney deems that an autopsy is necessary, he or she shall direct that one be made. The commissioner of the department of health and human services may, pursuant to RSA 126-A:5, V, request an autopsy of any individual who dies while admitted to, a resident of, or receiving care from New Hampshire hospital, Glencliff home, or any other residential facility operated by the department or a contract service provider.

II. The supervising medical examiner shall have the authority to conduct an autopsy and shall comply with any request by the attorney general, a county attorney, or the commissioner of health and human services to perform an autopsy.

611-B:18 Retention and Disposal of Organs, Unidentified Remains, Body Fragments, and Body Fluids.

I. Except as provided in RSA 227-C:8-a through RSA 227-C:8-g, whenever unidentified human skeletal remains are recovered, the chief medical examiner may store the remains, release them to an educational institution, direct that they be interred in an appropriate resting place, or have them cremated in accordance with RSA 325-A. Ashes of remains cremated shall be disposed of in an appropriate manner. Human skeletal remains recovered in a cared-for cemetery shall not be subject to the provisions of this paragraph.

II. The chief medical examiner or a designated pathologist may retain body tissues or body fluids for evidence, further study, documentation, or research. Subject to RSA 651-D:3, body tissue or body fluids retained for such purposes, or those which have been recovered after the body has been released from the custody of the medical examiner, may, unless claimed in writing by the person responsible for burial, be disposed of:

(a) According to the practices of the laboratory responsible for analysis;

(b) By the office of the chief medical examiner; or

(c) By the medical examiner or pathologist retaining those tissues or fluids.

III. Subject to RSA 651-D:3, the chief medical examiner may dispose of substantial body tissues that have been retained for evidence, further study, or documentation or that have been recovered after the rest of the body has been finally released, in accordance with paragraph I, unless claimed by the person responsible for burial.

611-B:19 Duty of the State Forensic Science Laboratory. Whenever the supervising medical examiner requires expert investigation, either chemical or pathological, of any substance or article preserved from an autopsy, such investigation may be made at the forensic science laboratory of the department of safety established in RSA 106-B:2-a, without charge or expense to the state or county, and the expert making such investigation shall submit a report of the results of the work to the person requesting it.

611-B:20 Report to County Attorney. If, upon completion of a death investigation, the medical examiner is of the opinion that the death of the person was caused or occurred in any manner described in RSA 611-B:11, the medical examiner shall file a record of the case with the county attorney or the attorney general, in accordance with rules adopted by the chief medical examiner under RSA 541-A.

611-B:21 Autopsy and Investigative Reports.

I. The medical examiner shall charge a reasonable fee for each autopsy report made available upon request. Such fee shall be credited to the medico-legal investigation fund established under RSA 611-B:28.

II. Homicide autopsy reports shall be made available only to the department of justice unless a written release is provided by the department of justice.

III. Except as provided otherwise by law and in rules adopted by the chief medical examiner pursuant to RSA 541-A, autopsy reports, investigative reports, and supporting documentation are confidential medical records and, as such, are exempt from the provisions of RSA 91-A. Copies of such documents may be made available to the next of kin, a law enforcement, prosecutorial, or other governmental agency involved in the investigation of the death, the decedent’s treating physician, and a medical or scientific body or university or similar organization for educational or research purposes. Autopsy reports, investigative reports, and supporting documents shall not otherwise be released without the authorization of next of kin.

IV. For any autopsy conducted pursuant to RSA 126-A:5, V, a report of any autopsy requested by the commissioner of health and human services shall be provided to the commissioner’s quality assurance program and any autopsy findings, test results, reports, or any other information pertaining to the autopsy shall be treated by the department of health and human services in accordance with the quality assurance program under RSA 126-A:4, IV. The copy of the report provided to the department under this section shall be privileged and confidential as provided in RSA 126-A:4, IV(b), except that the medical examiner may forward a copy of the report to the department of justice if the medical examiner finds that the cause of death may be attributable to criminal conduct, or may otherwise disclose the report in accordance with this statute.

611-B:22 Report to Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. In any case in which the deceased whose death is being investigated is a child whose death is determined to have been the result of sudden unexplained infant death, the supervising medical examiner shall file a record of the case with the bureau of maternal and child health, department of health and human services. The bureau shall not release this report to any person without the written permission of the supervising medical examiner. The bureau may inform the parents of the child of the disposition of the case in a letter, but shall not include any portion of the autopsy report.

611-B:23 Dental Examinations. In deaths investigated by a medical examiner, when the identity of a dead body cannot be established by visual means, fingerprints, or other identifying data, the medical examiner shall have a qualified dentist, as determined by the supervising medical examiner, carry out a dental examination of the dead body. If the medical examiner with the aid of the dental examination and other sources of identification is still not able to establish the identity of the dead body, he or she shall prepare and forward the dental examination records to the division of state police on a form supplied by the division for that purpose.

611-B:24 Release of Body. The medical examiner, upon the completion of the investigation, shall release the dead body, upon their claim therefor, to one of the following persons:

I. The husband or wife, as the case may be.

II. The next of kin.

III. Any friend of the deceased.

611-B:25 Unclaimed Body. If a dead body is unidentified or unclaimed for a period of not less than 48 hours following completion of the death investigation, the medical examiner shall release the body to the overseer of public welfare in the town or, in the case of an unincorporated place, to a county commissioner, who shall decently bury or cremate the body, or, with the consent of the commissioners or the overseer, it may be sent to the medical department of a medical school or university, to be used for the advancement of the science of anatomy and surgery, as provided for by law.

611-B:26 Death Record. When the body is released pursuant to RSA 611-B:24 or RSA 611-B:25, the medical examiner shall provide to the person taking custody of the body a state of New Hampshire death certificate form with the pronouncing and certifying sections completed.

611-B:27 Assistant Deputy Medical Examiner Accounts.

I. Assistant deputy medical examiners shall be paid at the following rates: telephone consultations - $25; death investigations involving an external examination of the body - $125, plus mileage at the state rate; pre-cremation examinations conducted pursuant to RSA 325-A:18 - $50.

II. Assistant deputy medical examiners shall submit all claims for telephone consultation fees, death investigation fees and expenses, and pre-cremation examination fees to the office of the chief medical examiner, which shall authorize such claims and submit them for payment to the state treasurer, chargeable to the medico-legal investigation fund established pursuant to RSA 611-B:28. On a monthly basis, the office of the chief medical examiner shall bill each of the counties for the services provided to that county by the assistant deputy medical examiners during the previous month, and any body transportation costs associated with the billed services, as provided under RSA 611-B:15, I. Services shall be billed at the following rates: telephone consultation - $25; death investigation - $140; travel expenses – the state mileage rate. The county treasurer shall submit payment to the state treasurer, for deposit in the medico-legal investigation fund.

611-B:27-a Autopsy Expenses.

I. All autopsy-related bills shall be submitted to the office of the chief medical examiner, which shall authorize them and submit them for payment to the state treasurer, chargeable to the medico-legal investigative fund established pursuant to RSA 611-B:28.

II. For purposes of this section, autopsy expenses shall include morgue costs, microscopic processes, toxicology, body transportation, x-ray costs, and other ancillary testing costs.

611-B:28 Medico-Legal Investigation Fund.

I. There is established in the office of the state treasurer a nonlapsing fund to be known as the medico-legal investigation fund, which shall be kept distinct and separate from all other funds. The medico-legal investigation fund is established to receive all fees paid to the state related to medico-legal investigations and reports, to receive autopsy expenses paid to the state, to pay autopsy expenses authorized by the office of the chief medical examiner, fees due to assistant deputy medical examiners for investigations conducted, related administrative salaries, and the costs of recruitment, training, administration, and supervision of assistant deputy medical examiners.

II. The treasurer shall deposit in the medico-legal investigation fund all fees collected by the department of justice, office of the chief medical examiner pursuant to RSA 611-B. The treasurer shall also deposit in the medico-legal investigation fund such other funds received under state or federal law, or donated to the state by private parties, for the purposes related to medico-legal investigations, the recruitment, training, administration, and supervision of assistant deputy medical examiners, and related technology projects and improvements, and the treasurer shall credit any interest or income earned on moneys on deposit to the fund.

III. The attorney general is authorized to accept, budget, and expend moneys in the medico-legal investigation fund received from any party without the approval of the governor and council for the purposes of paying fees due by law to assistant deputy medical examiners, and for recruitment, training, administration, and supervision of assistant deputy medical examiners, administrative support costs, and related information technology.

IV. All moneys in the medico-legal investigation fund shall be continually appropriated to the department of justice and shall not lapse.

V. The treasurer, upon approval of the attorney general, shall pay assistant deputy medical examiners fees to which they are entitled by law, the expenses of recruiting, training, administering, and supervising assistant deputy medical examiners, administrative support costs, and the expenses of related information technology.

VI. The attorney general shall include the medico-legal investigation fund in the department budget submitted pursuant to RSA 9:4.

Missing Persons

611-B:29 Dental Records. If a person reported missing has not been found within 30 days, the county sheriff, chief of police of a city or town, medical examiner, or other law enforcement authority initiating or conducting the investigation for the missing person shall request the family or next of kin of the missing person to give them written consent to contact and request from the dentist of the missing person the person’s dental records. The dental records of the missing person shall be forwarded to the division of state police on a form supplied by the division for that purpose.

611-B:30 Identification by Scoring Probabilities. The division of state police shall act as a repository or computer center, or both, for the dental examination records and dental records filed with it under this chapter. The division shall compare the dental examination records filed pursuant to RSA 611-B:29 with the dental records filed pursuant to RSA 611-B:23 and shall determine which scoring probabilities are the highest for purposes of identification, and shall submit the information to the agency that prepared and forwarded the dental examination records. The division files shall be made available to any law enforcement agency attempting to locate a missing person.

611-B:31 Destruction of Records. If a person reported missing has been found, the county sheriff, chief of police of a city or town, medical examiner, or other law enforcement authority shall report the fact to the division of state police. After receiving the report, the division shall erase or destroy the dental records with respect to the person, which are maintained pursuant to this subdivision.

324:2 Vital Records Administration; Death Registration Forms; Reference Change. Amend RSA 5-C:62, II(h) to read as follows:

(h) In the case of deaths as described in RSA [611:3] 611-B:11, when the deceased had died at the scene but was transported on the instructions of the medical examiner to another place for viewing and pronouncement of death, the city or town of death shall be shown as that place where the death actually occurred. If the place of death is unknown but the body is found in the state of New Hampshire, the city or town where the body is found shall be shown as the place of death. When death occurs in a moving conveyance in the United States and the body is first removed from the conveyance in the state of New Hampshire, the death shall be registered in New Hampshire, and the city or town where the body is first removed shall be considered the place of death.

324:3 Vital Records Administration; Initiation of the Death Record; Reference Change. Amend RSA 5-C:63, I to read as follows:

I. When a death occurs in a hospital or health care facility and the death is not [under the jurisdiction of a] reported to the medical examiner pursuant to RSA [611:4] 611-B:12, the person in charge of such facility, or his or her designated representative, shall provide the funeral director, next of kin, or designated agent with: a partially completed death record and the name and address the physician or ARNP who will be responsible for supplying the cause of death information before the body is removed.

324:4 Vital Records Administration; Initiation of the Death Record; Reference Change. Amend RSA 5-C:63, VIII to read as follows:

VIII. The reverse side of the death certificate shall contain a notice to the physician or ARNP regarding the release of a body in accordance with RSA 290:2-a, the necessity of a pronouncement in accordance with RSA 290:1-b and indication of who can provide alternate signatures in the absence of the attending physician or ARNP, in accordance with RSA 290:1-b. The reverse side of the certificate shall also contain a reference to those categories of death that fall under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner as specified in RSA [611:4] 611-B:11.

324:5 Vital Records Administration; Medical Certification of the Death Record; Reference Change. Amend RSA 5-C:64, III to read as follows:

III. Medical certification of the death record shall be the direct responsibility of the attending physician or ARNP unless the death is referred to the medical examiner pursuant to RSA [611:4] 611-B:12.

324:6 Vital Records Administration; Medical Certification of the Death Record; Reference Change. Amend the introductory paragraph of RSA 5-C:64, VIII to read as follows:

VIII. When the death has not occurred in a hospital and circumstances require the death certificate to be certified by a medical examiner as provided by RSA [611] 611-B, the following procedure shall be followed:

324:7 Vital Records Administration; Cremation; Certificate of Cremation from Medical Examiner’s Office. Amend RSA 5-C:71 to read as follows:

5-C:71 Cremation.

I. When the body of a deceased person is to be disposed of by cremation, the crematory operator, the funeral director, next of kin, or designated agent in charge of the final disposition arrangements shall present a copy of the death certificate and the burial permit or emergency burial permit with the body to a medical examiner [or deputy medical examiner] in order to obtain the medical examiner’s certificate.

II. [Upon receipt, the completed medical examiner’s certificate for cremation shall be given by the funeral director, next of kin, or designated agent to the crematory along with] A crematory authority shall not cremate the body until the cremation authority has received the medical examiner’s certificate for cremation and the burial permit or emergency burial permit.

III. After cremation, the crematory shall forward one copy of the medical examiner’s certificate for cremation, along with the burial permit or emergency burial permit, to the clerk of the city or town of cremation. The crematory shall also forward one copy of the medical examiner’s certificate to the office of the chief medical examiner, as required by RSA 325-A:18, II, and keep one copy on file.

324:8 Vital Records Administration; Procedures for the Disposition of Fetal Death Remains; Reference Change. Amend RSA 5-C:79 to read as follows:

5-C:79 Procedures for the Disposition of Fetal Death Remains. Prior to disposition, the funeral director, next of kin, or designated agent, hospital administrator or his or her designated representative, or whomever assumes responsibility for the disposition shall request a written authorization from the parent regarding the manner of disposition such as burial, cremation, temporary entombment, donation, mausoleum, or other. When disposition takes place outside the hospital or institution, a burial permit shall be completed as described in RSA 5-C:78. In the case where fetal death remains are to be cremated other than in a hospital, authorization shall first be obtained from the medical examiner pursuant to RSA [611:3, II(o)] 611-B:11. The burial permit shall be submitted to the clerk of the town or city within 6 calendar days of the disposition.

324:9 Dedicated Fund; Reference to Medico-legal Investigation Fund Added. Amend RSA 6:12, I(b) by inserting after subparagraph (252) the following new subparagraph:

(253) Moneys deposited in the medico-legal investigation fund pursuant to RSA 611-B:28.

324:10 Duties of the Attorney General; Reference Change. Amend RSA 21-M:5, V to read as follows:

V. Supervise the operations of the office of chief medical examiner established [by RSA 611-A, which shall be a part of the office of the attorney general] in RSA 611-B, which shall be part of the department of justice.

324:11 Department of Health and Human Services; Reference Change. Amend RSA 126-A:5, V to read as follows:

V. The commissioner shall have the authority to direct an autopsy be made upon the death of any person admitted to, a resident of, or receiving care from the New Hampshire hospital, Glencliff home, or any other residential facility operated by the department or a contract service provider, if the commissioner deems it necessary for the purpose of determining the existence of infection or disease, cause of death, or for other good reason. The findings of any such autopsy shall be treated by the department in accordance with the quality assurance program under RSA 126-A:4, IV and by the medical examiner in accordance with the provisions of RSA [611-A:8] 611-B:21, IV.

324:12 Historic Preservation; Definition of Historic Resource; Reference Change. Amend RSA 227-C:1, VII(c) to read as follows:

(c) Skeletal remains of humans that would not be subject to the provisions of RSA [611-A] 611-B and which fall under the provisions of RSA 227-C:8, VI; skeletal remains of other vertebrate animals; and other fossils within a cultural context that constitutes, or may constitute, the whole or part of an historic property;

324:13 Uniform Police Investigation Report of Accident; Reference Change. Amend RSA 264:26, III to read as follows:

III. A police officer ordering removal of a body under RSA [611:7, II] 611-B:14, II shall include as part of the report required by this section a survey of the location report required under RSA [611:8] 611-B:14, I.

324:14 Blood Testing of Certain Motor Vehicle Fatalities; Reference Change. Amend the introductory paragraph of RSA 265-A:16 to read as follows:

When a collision, boating accident, or OHRV accident results in death or serious bodily injury to any person, all drivers or operators involved, whether living or deceased, and all deceased vehicle, boat, or OHRV occupants and pedestrians involved shall be tested for evidence of alcohol or controlled drugs. A law enforcement officer, authorized agent, or peace officer shall request a licensed physician, registered nurse, certified physician's assistant, or qualified medical technician or medical technologist to withdraw blood from each driver or operator involved if living and from the body of each deceased driver or operator, deceased occupant, or deceased pedestrian, in accordance with RSA [611:6, II] 611-B:14, II, for the purpose of testing for evidence of alcohol content or controlled drugs; provided that in the case of a living driver or operator the officer has probable cause to believe that the driver or operator caused the collision or accident. All tests made under this section shall be conducted by the forensic science laboratory established in RSA 106-B:2-a or in any other laboratory capable of conducting such tests which is licensed under the laws of this or any other state and which has also been licensed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act of 1988, as amended. A copy of the report of any such test shall be kept on file by the medical examiner. The filed report is not a public record under RSA 91-A. However, the report shall be made available to the following:

324:15 Release of Corneas for Transplantation Liability; Reference Change. Amend RSA 291-A:14, I(a) to read as follows:

(a) The body of the decedent is under the jurisdiction of the chief medical examiner, in accordance with RSA [611 or RSA 611-A] 611-B.

324:16 Medical Examiner’s Certificate; Fee. Amend RSA 325-A:18 to read as follows:

325-A:18 Medical Examiner’s Certificate.

I. The body of a deceased person shall not be cremated within 48 hours after his or her decease unless he or she died of a contagious or infectious disease, and, if the death occurred within the state, the body shall not be cremated by the crematory authority until the crematory authority has received the certificate of burial permit required by law before burial, and a certificate from a medical examiner [or deputy medical examiner] that he or she has viewed the body and made personal inquiry into the cause and manner of death, and is of the opinion that no further examination or judicial inquiry concerning the same is necessary. [For said certificate, the medical examiner shall receive a fee of $35, payable by the crematory authority.] If the death occurs without the state, the reception and cremation of the body of a deceased person shall be governed by rules adopted by the board after consultation with the chief medical examiner.

II. The crematory authority shall forward a copy of the cremation certificate to the office of the chief medical examiner, accompanied by a $60 fee. The fee shall be deposited in the medico-legal investigative fund established pursuant to RSA 611-B:28.

324:17 Administrative Support Position Established. The department of justice shall have the authority to hire a full-time support person in a supervisor II position at labor grade 21, who shall be responsible for administrative duties associated with the office of the chief medical examiner. The position shall be funded through the medico-legal investigation fund established in RSA 611-B:28.

324:18 Repeal. The following are repealed:

I. RSA 611, relative to medical examiners.

II. RSA 611-A, relative to office of the chief medical examiner.

324:19 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

Approved: July 16, 2007

Effective: September 14, 2007

Links

HB488 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type

Bill Text Revisions

HB488 Revision: 10739 Date: Jan. 11, 2010, midnight

Docket