The Coroner's Office holds investigations concerning the manner and cause of any deaths that are sudden, unexpected, resulted from violence or accident, under suspicious or unusual circumstances, and other deaths pursuant to LA R.S. 33:1563. The coroner may perform or cause to be performed by a competent physician an autopsy in any death in his discretion. The coroner issues emergency certificates, and/or orders of protective custody on those in need of immediate medical treatment because he/she is dangerous to self or others or gravely disabled. The coroner also investigates and collects evidence on all sexual assault cases reported to local law enforcement agencies.
Reporting a Death
The following is a list of all cases that are mandated to be reported to the Coroner's Office:
- Suspicious, unexpected, or unusual deaths.
- Sudden or violent deaths.
- Deaths due to unknown or obscure causes or in any unusual manner.
- Bodies found dead.
- Deaths without an attending physician within thirty-six hours prior to the hour of death.
- Deaths due to suspected suicide or homicide.
- Deaths in which poison is suspected.
- Any death from natural causes occurring in a hospital under twenty-four hours admission unless seen by a physician in the last thirty-six hours.
- Deaths following an injury or accident either old or recent.
- Deaths due to drowning, hanging, burns, electrocution, gunshot wounds, stabs or cutting, lightning, starvation, radiation, exposure, alcoholism, addiction, tetanus, strangulation, suffocation, or smothering.
- Deaths due to trauma from whatever cause.
- Deaths due to criminal means or by casualty.
- Deaths in prison or while serving a sentence.
- Deaths due to virulent contagious disease that might be caused by or cause a public hazard, including acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
- All deaths of infants under the age of one year.
Manner of Death
The coroner classifies each death for the completion of the death certificate in one of the following manners:
- NATURAL: Death that is the result of natural causes, such as disease processes or basic health-related issues.
- ACCIDENT: Death that is unintentional that may have resulted from significant injury, ingestion of substance, or other abnormality.
- SUICIDE: Death that is the result of intentional taking of one's own life. Suicide may occur for a number of reasons, including depression, shame, guilt, desperation, physical pain, emotional pressure, anxiety, financial difficulties, or other undesirable situations.
- HOMICIDE: Death that is the result of any human being killing another human being.
- UNDETERMINED: Death that, after a complete investigation, the cause and manner of death is not clearly determined.
- NOT A CORONER'S CASE: Death that may or may not be reported to the coroner and is not required to be investigated by the Coroner's Office as per LA Revised Statues.
- OUT OF PARISH: Death that is under the jurisdiction of another parish and or county.
- PENDING: Death that require further investigation.
Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation (SUIDI)
SUIDI is the investigation of any natural or unnatural death of a child under the age of one year that was considered to be a healthy birth/infant.
There are four main types/classifications of Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths (SUID).
- ASPHYXIA or SUFFOCATION: Occurs when the air supply is no longer available. This can occur when the child is wedged between two objects, rolled over on, or has their airway restricted by bedding or stuffed animals.
- METABOLIC ERROR: A rare genetic disorder that prevents the body from turning food into energy.
- INJURY or TRAUMA: Intentional or unintentional harm that may or may not be fatal. This can occur when the baby is shaken or dropped.
- SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome): A diagnosis of exclusion. SIDS is usually listed as the cause of death for an infant when there is no logical explanation found during the investigation, either medical or non-medical, that could have caused the infant's death.
These types of investigations are done in order to determine the cause and manner of death to the best of our knowledge based on a combination of physical findings and past medical history.