Essential Medicolegal Death Investigation Services: Standardization of a Survey Instrument Based on the Essential Public Health Services


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Stacy A. Drake, M.S.N., M.P.H., R.N.
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
School of Nursing, 6901 Bertner Avenue, #667
TX 77030


Abstract:  The National Academy of Sciences recommends that states assess the performance of medicolegal death investigation agencies. To aid in performance assessment, we adapted an instrument based on the CDC’s 10 Essential Public Health Services by translating the terminology to that of essential medicolegal death investigation services. This produced a survey that could be used to standardize reporting practices and services of agencies. To validate the instrument, a stratified random sample of 12 death investigation chiefs in 12 states was interviewed. This sample represented both medical examiner and coroner jurisdictions within the varying medicolegal structures. A cognitive testing process elicited how well participants could respond to and interpret the survey questions. The response was favorable in that the respondents agreed that given specific revisions toward question clarification, the instrument would be a useful and relevant tool for assessing system performance.