Office of the Medical Examiner District 19 logo with State of Florida flag. Indian River Martin St. Lucie Okeechobee






8:00am – 4:15pm


2500 South 35th St., Building I
Fort Pierce, FL 34981


Frequently Asked Questions

For the Family

Our office is committed to treating your loved one with the respect and dignity that they deserve. We understand that death is one, if not the most devastating occurrence that a family will face, and it may be difficult to think of what to ask the Medical Examiner’s Office. We have anticipated some of the questions that you may have and included them below.

Why is the medical examiner involved

A death certificate must be certified by a doctor for all deaths before final disposition of the deceased can occur. When the decedent has a primary care treating physician and a death occurs from natural causes, the primary care physician can certify the death certificate. If the decedent is not under the care of a physician or the death appears to be suspicious the medical examiner must be notified to begin an investigation and make sure the death certificate is certified.


State statute dictates the types of cases in which the medical examiner will become involved. The specific statute reads as follows: 

 406.11 Examinations, investigations, and autopsies. In any of the following circumstances involving the death of a human being, the medical examiner of the district in which the death occurred, or the body was found shall determine the cause of death and shall make or have performed such examinations, investigations, and autopsies as he/she shall deem necessary or as shall be requested by the state attorney when any person dies in the state: 

  • Of criminal violence
  • By accident
  • By suicide
  • Suddenly, when in apparent good health
  • Unattended by a practicing physician or other recognized practitioner
  • In any prison or penal institution
  • In police custody
  • In any suspicious or unusual circumstance
  • By criminal abortion
  • By poison
  • By disease constituting a threat to public health
  • By disease, injury, or toxic agent resulting from employment
  • When a dead body is brought into the state without proper medical certification
  • When a body is to be cremated, dissected, or buried at sea
What is a forensic autopsy?

The forensic autopsy is an internal and external examination of the body after death using surgical techniques to determine the presence of an injury and / or to identify any disease that may have caused or contributed to the death. It is performed by a forensic pathologist, a medical doctor specially trained in this type of procedure who can recognize diseases or patterns of injury, collect evidence, and investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.  


The performance of an autopsy should not in any way affect a funeral or viewing of the body. 

After the examination, the body can be released to the funeral home of the family’s choice regardless of the pending status of the cause or manner of death. The family is required to sign a release giving the funeral home permission to pick-up the remains from the medical examiner’s office. 


Often people have loved ones who pass away, and they do not understand why an autopsy wasn’t performed. The primary reason is the death did not fall under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner’s office, meaning the death was due to natural causes with an attending physician available to certify the death certificate. The medical examiner’s office must follow Florida Statute 406.11 when determining which cases to take jurisdiction of. After the Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled out jurisdiction, the family does have the right to a private autopsy and may contact a private pathologist to perform the autopsy. 


Under Public Records Law Chapter 119 autopsy reports are considered public record and can be requested using the form link or by submitting a written request with your name, the decedent’s name, the relationship between the requestor and decedent along with the address or email where the report should be sent. All requests should be mailed to: 

 Office of the Medical Examiner, District 19  

2500 South 35th Street Building I, 

Fort Pierce, Florida 34981  

or emailed to the address below. 

Please Note: Autopsy reports for homicides may not be available until the State Attorney’s Office has concluded the criminal investigation. 

How do I obtain a copy of the Death Certificate?

Contact your funeral home or contact the Office of Vital Statistics at the local level, or State Vital Statistic Office at 904-359-6900  

Ordering Death Certificates 

Death | Florida Department of Health ( 

How do I find a funeral home?

Personnel from the medical examiner’s office are not permitted to recommend a funeral home to families. Funeral homes are listed online. 

What if I can't afford a funeral home?

Each county has a social services indigent burial services for those who are unable to afford funeral arrangements. You may contact them: 


  • St. Lucie County- 772-462-1777 
  • Indian River County-772-226-1423 
  • Martin County-772-288-5785 
  • Okeechobee County – 863-763-6441 
    Where Can I Find Grief Support?

    Treasure Coast Hospice

    Phone: 772-403-4500




    New Horizons of the Treasure Coast

    Phone: 772-468-5600

    Dial 988 for Suicide Hotline

    Other Important Numbers

    Vital Statistics 

    • St. Lucie County (772) 873-4932 
    • Indian River County (772) 794-7460 
    • Martin County (772) 221-4000
    • Okeechobee County (863) 462-5804 
    • State of Florida (904) 359-6900 
    • Social Security Administration 800-772-1213 
      What If I believe My Loved One to be Missing or Unidentified?

      If you are missing a loved one, and believe they may be unidentified you can search the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS). The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is a national centralized repository and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States.