Recently, the Cook County Medical Examiners’ office (CCME) successfully obtained full accreditation status after having received provisional accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) in February 2013. The NAME accreditation standards are set by NAME for the purpose of improving the quality of medicolegal death investigation in this country. The CCME has been transformed over the last 3 years by the diligent work of the staff Forensic Pathologists, under the leadership of Dr. Stephen J. Cina, Chief Medical Examiner (who is leaving on May 24th), and Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner (who will become the next Chief Medical Examiner). As a result, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office is now recognized as one of the premier institutions for death investigation in the nation.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office plays a vital role in the administration of justice and protection of public health. Annually, more than 14,000 deaths are reported to the office. Of these reported cases, approximately 4,900 are accepted for further investigation by the CCME and are transported to the Institute. This office is the only medical examiner system in the state of Illinois and serves the 5.2 million residents of Cook County, which accounts for roughly 50% of the state’s population.