Coroner's Office: (3300B)

Program Outcome Statement

To serve the residents of San Mateo County by providing prompt independent investigations to determine the cause and manner of death under the Coroner's jurisdiction. Provide high quality service in a courteous manner balancing the needs of those we serve with the Coroner's legal requirement.

Program Services

  • Investigations
  • Forensics
  • Save A Life

Overview

The Coroner's Office responds to calls for service, investigates and determines the circumstances and manner of all violent, sudden, or unnatural deaths in San Mateo County. The Coroner's Office must establish whether or not a death was due to natural or unnatural causes. The Office receives and investigates approximately 2,200 death reports annually. Approximately 25% of those reports require further inquiry. With the cooperation of law enforcement agencies, medical personnel, funeral homes, and families, Deputy Coroners conduct thorough investigations into a death. The Deputy Coroners also provide families with information regarding funeral arrangements, obtaining death certificates, and recovering personal property. The Coroner's Office contracts for forensic pathologists, body removal and tissue analysis services.

Percent of Cases Closed Within 90 Days Meets National Standard of Closing 90% Within 90 Days

Percent of Survey Respondents Rating Services as Good or Better Exceeds Target


Cost per Investigation Remaining Steady

Story Behind Performance FY 2018-19 Update

Percent of Cases Closed within 90 Days Meets National Standard
The conclusion of Coroner cases provides timely closure to family members and next of kin for handling affairs following the death of a loved one.  The national standard for closing Coroner cases is 90% of cases closed within 90 days of the death.  The San Mateo County Coroner's Office meets the standard of closing 90% of cases within 90 days.  The Coroner's Office submits more than 90% of death certificate amendments to the state registrar within 90 days of death and allows the release of more than 90% of case reports upon receiving California Public Records Act requests.
Percent of Survey Respondents Rating Services as Good or Better Meets Target
Clients to the Coroner's Office may include families, law enforcement, medical personnel and funeral homes. The Coroner's Office has historically only received an average of ten surveys per year. In 2018, the Coroner's Office adopted new efforts to increase the number of responses.  These new efforts, internet accessibility of the survey and personal letters with an attached survey sent to clients, tripled the number of surveys received in prior years.  The Coroner's Office met the goal of at least 90% survey respondents rating services as good or better.
Cost per Investigation Remaining Steady
The cost per investigation is an efficiency measure for the Coroner's Office. The Coroner's Office increased in cost per investigation from $1,400 in FY 2016-17 to $1,654 per investigation in FY 2017-18.  The cost per investigation remains steady at $1,623 per investigation in FY 2018-19. The Coroner's Office continued a pilot program that began in June 2016 to complete scene investigations on residential elder deaths reported by law enforcement and continued to direct more investigative resources to evaluate elder deaths. The Coroner's Office continued to offer competitive contracts for Forensic Pathology services.  During FY 2018-19, the Coroner's Office identified an efficiency of service and pursued contracted medical transcription services.

Future Priorities

1) Independently seeking accurate cause and manner of death for all decedents falling under the jurisdiction of the Coroner's Office.
2) Maintaining excellence through specialized continuing education and employing board certified personnel.
3) Compassionately communicating with decedents' loved ones through the entire case investigation.
4) Collaborating with and educating the community and stakeholders regarding the role and function of the Coroner's Office.
5) Preventing untimely death through referrals of death reports to partner agencies and outreach to the community.
Author: Emily Tauscher, Assistant Coroner     Contact Email: ETauscher@smcgov.org     Last Updated: February 2, 2019