Subject of Investigation
The Sacramento County Coroner's Office shares a new building with the Sacramento County Crime Laboratory. The building was completed in 1996.
Reason for Investigation
The County Coroner's Office was selected as part of the Grand Jury's on-going responsibility to review County agencies and departments.
The Grand Jury prepared and sent a list of questions to the Coroner prior to the visit. The Coroner and his staff responded to these questions in a briefing, after which the Grand Jury toured the facility and viewed two autopsies.
The responsibility of the Coroner is to determine the circumstances, manner, and cause of sudden or unexplained deaths in Sacramento County. The Coroner's Office transports bodies and charges a fee of $100.00. It was noted that billing and collecting of the $100.00 fee for picking up bodies was an extremely sensitive matter. In many instances, the Coroner's Office was unable to collect the fee without resorting to formal collection procedures which they did not wish to do.
The Coroner's Office also attempts to promptly notify the decedent's next of kin face to face. Personal notification is not always possible and a note may be left.
Specific aspects of the work done by the Coroner's Office is performed by private companies under contract to the Coroner. The Coroner assured the Grand Jury that he follows proper county procedures for procuring services from outside agencies. The Coroner performs contract work for El Dorado County and provides space in the morgue and the autopsy room to the University of California, Davis Medical Center on a contract basis.
The Coroner's goal is to expand customer service to include shorter case processing time and more public access through a web site that would provide an on-line tour of the facility. The Coroner is considering the possibility of offering services to private medical facilities for a fee. The Coroner hopes to increase revenue by charging a fee for handling cases for other counties.
1. The Board of Supervisors should rescind their resolution to charge $100.00 for transporting bodies.
2. The Coroner should ensure that all death notifications to the next of kin are done face to face.
The Penal Code requires that responses to all of the recommendations contained in this Report be submitted to the Presiding Judge of the Sacramento Superior Court by September 30, 2000, from:
· The Board of Supervisors