Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York

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Seal of the OCME.
Forensic Biology Laboratory

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York (OCME) is a department within the city government that investigates cases of persons who die within New York City from criminal violence; by casualty or by suicide; suddenly, when in apparent good health; when unattended by a physician; in a correctional facility; or in any suspicious or unusual manner. The OCME also investigates when an application is made pursuant to law for a permit to cremate the body of a deceased person.

The office was established on January 1, 1918, pursuant to a 1915 Act of the New York State Legislature. The Chief Medical Examiner is appointed by the mayor. Dr. Patrick J. Riordan ran the department from January 1 to February 1, when Dr. Charles Norris was appointed by the mayor as the first official Chief Medical Examiner of New York City.[1]

The OCME provides the citizens of New York City essential services directly by identifying the manner and cause of death in specified cases, as well as providing state-of-the-art forensic DNA analysis through the OCME Forensic Biology Laboratory.

These services include on-site investigation into manner and cause of death; identification of remains; performing autopsies; performing DNA testing related to identification of remains; examination of homicide, sexual assault, and other crime evidence collected by the Police Department for DNA extraction and typing; and responding to disasters that involve fatalities as part of a multidisciplinary team of city agencies.

Chief Medical Examiner[edit]

  • January 1, 1918: The OCME is set up in offices on the second floor of Bellevue Hospital. Dr. Patrick J. Riordan is appointed as the temporary Chief Medical Examiner (CME), serving one month.
  • Dr. Thomas Gonzales 1935-1954
  • Dr. Milton Helpern 1954-1973
  • Dr. Dominick DiMaio 1974-1978
  • Dr. Elliot M. Gross 1979-1989
  • Dr. Barbara Sampson 2013-Present (appointed as acting in 2013 and as permanent in 2014)

Unified Victim Identification System[edit]

In the aftermath of the numerous deaths resulting from the September 11 attacks on New York City and the crash of American Airlines Flight 587, the OCME developed the Unified Victim Identification System (UVIS). An Internet-enabled database system, it is intended to handle critical fatality management functions in the case of a major disaster with numerous deaths. It also has functionality to enable the OCME to respond to an influenza pandemic.[3]


  1. ^ Evans, Colin. Blood on the Table; The Greatest Cases of New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2008.
  2. ^ Dan Barry, "City’s Chief Medical Examiner Since ’89 Quietly Retires", New York Times, 5 February 2013, accessed 3 September 2015
  3. ^ City of New York Office of Chief Medical Examiner Pandemic Influenza Surge Plan To Manage In-Hospital Deaths Planning Tool

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°44′29″N 73°58′30″W / 40.74139°N 73.97500°W / 40.74139; -73.97500