Article - Health - General
(a) If the cause of death is established to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the medical examiner who investigates the case shall file in the medical examiner’s office a report on the cause of death within 30 days after notification of the case.
(b) (1) If the medical examiner who investigates a medical examiner’s case considers an autopsy necessary, the Chief Medical Examiner, a deputy chief medical examiner, an assistant medical examiner, or a pathologist authorized by the Chief Medical Examiner shall perform the autopsy.
(2) If the family of the deceased objects to an autopsy on religious grounds, the autopsy may not be performed unless authorized by the Chief Medical Examiner or by the Chief Medical Examiner’s designee.
(3) (i) In accordance with normal standards of medical practice, the medical examiner performing the autopsy may retain any medical evidence, tissue, or organ needed to carry out the duties of this subtitle.
(ii) The medical examiner shall dispose of any medical evidence, tissue, or organ under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph in accordance with normal standards of medical practice.
(c) (1) A medical examiner shall conduct an autopsy of any fire fighter and any sworn personnel of the State Fire Marshal’s Office who dies in the line of duty or as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty.
(2) The autopsy shall include:
(i) A toxicological analysis for toxic fumes;
(ii) Gross and microscopic studies of heart, lung, and any other tissue involved;
(iii) Appropriate studies of blood and urine; and
(iv) Appropriate studies of body fluids and body tissues.
(3) If the medical examiner determines toxic fumes were the cause of death, the medical examiner shall:
(i) Investigate to the extent possible the source of the fumes; and
(ii) Prepare a written report on the specific effects of the fumes on human tissue.
(4) The autopsy and analysis shall be sufficient to determine eligibility for benefits under the federal Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Act of 1976.
(d) (1) (i) The individual who performs the autopsy shall prepare detailed written findings during the progress of the autopsy.
(ii) The findings prepared under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph and the conclusions drawn from them shall be filed in the office of the medical examiner for the county where the death occurred.
(iii) The original copy of the findings and conclusions shall be filed in the Office.
(iv) The Department and the Committee may not interfere with the clinical findings or conclusions prepared under subparagraphs (i) and (ii) of this paragraph.
(2) (i) Except in a case of a finding of homicide, a person in interest as defined in § 4–101(e) of the General Provisions Article may request the medical examiner to correct findings and conclusions on the cause and manner of death recorded on a certificate of death under § 4–502 of the General Provisions Article within 180 days after the medical examiner files those findings and conclusions.
(ii) 1. If the Chief Medical Examiner denies the request of a person in interest to correct findings and conclusions on the cause and manner of death, the person in interest may appeal the denial to the Secretary, who shall refer the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings.
2. A contested case hearing under this subparagraph shall be a hearing both on the denial and on the establishment of the findings and conclusions on the cause and manner of death.
(iii) The administrative law judge shall submit findings of fact to the Secretary.
(iv) After reviewing the findings of the administrative law judge, the Secretary, or the Secretary’s designee, shall issue an order to:
1. Adopt the findings of the administrative law judge; or
2. Reject the findings of the administrative law judge, and affirm the findings of the medical examiner.
(v) The appellant may appeal a rejection under subparagraph (iv)2 of this paragraph to a circuit court of competent jurisdiction.
(vi) If the final decision of the Secretary, or of the Secretary’s designee, or of a court of competent jurisdiction on appeal, establishes a different finding or conclusion on the cause or manner of death of a deceased than that recorded on the certificate of death, the medical examiner shall amend the certificate to reflect the different finding or conclusion under §§ 4–212 and 4–214 of this article and § 4–502 of the General Provisions Article.
(vii) The final decision of the Secretary, or the Secretary’s designee, or of a court under this paragraph may not give rise to any presumption concerning the application of any provision of or the resolution of any claim concerning a policy of insurance relating to the deceased.
(viii) If the findings of the medical examiner are upheld by the Secretary, the appellant is responsible for the costs of the contested case hearing. Otherwise, the Department is responsible for the costs of the hearing.
(e) The Chief Medical Examiner shall set a reasonable fee for performing an autopsy by an authorized pathologist.