Differences Between a Coroner and a Medical Examiner

Sometimes we are encountering problems when translating words from one language to another. An example can be coroner (in Spanish it can be translated as forense, médico forense and juez de instrucción), while forense, in Spanish, can be translated as medical examiner or forensic surgeon.  What is then the difference between a coroner and a medical examiner?

Here are the relevant similarities and differences between a coroner and a medical examiner:


  • Both coroner and medical examiner investigate death, particularly one that is untimely, unexpected, sudden, violent, or the cause of which is unknown.
  • Both determine the cause of death, whether it was due to natural causes, a homicide, an accident, a suicide, or undetermined causes.
  • Both assign the cause of death when issuing death certificates.


  • A coroner is not required to have a medical background while a medical examiner is almost always required to be a physician.
  • A medical examiner performs autopsies while a coroner doesn’t.
  • A medical examiner is almost always required to be a pathologist or a forensic pathologist while a coroner isn’t.
  • A coroner may be elected or appointed while a medical examiner is always appointed.

Source: DifferenceBetween.net

You can also check Coroner at Wikipedia here, but note there is no Spanish version of this page. However the French page reads: “Un coroner est, dans les pays de culture anglo-saxonne ainsi qu’au Japon, un fonctionnaire chargé, au nom de la Couronne (d’où le nom), d’enquêter sur les circonstances d’un décès violent, obscur ou qui semble le résultat d’un crime, et d’en déterminer la cause. L’enquête du coroner est publique et indépendante des enquêtes policières, judiciaires, ou de toute investigation civile. Son but est le développement de mesures de protection de la vie humaine et de faciliter l’exercice des droits et recours à la suite d’un décès.”

I do hope you will find this information useful.

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