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FY19 Paul Coverdell UNM-OMI Project ECHO

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $130,334)

The State of New Mexico has a centralized medical examiner system (Office of the Medical Investigator {OMI}), based in Albuquerque, NM. To facilitate death investigation statewide, field medicolegal death investigators (MDl's) are employed in each of New Mexico's counties. These MDl's are generally lay people with little medical knowledge, tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding each death, gathering historical medical and medication information, examining the outside of the body for evidence of trauma or natural disease, photographing the scene and body, and accurately relaying this information to investigators and pathologists in the central office. The OMI decides to continue the examination or terminate the investigation based on this preliminary investigation and the investigative information also used to complete death certificates on cases that are not further examined. A broad base of medical and forensic knowledge is required to appropriately complete these responsibilities. However, inadequacy of training has resulted in substandard MDI investigative reports, a delay in death certification and the issuance of death certificates, and the quality of death investigation. Only 17 out of a total of 110 field MDl's are registry certified by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigation.
The current training model is insufficient in developing and maintaining the skills required to perform adequate medicolegal death investigation. With funding from this program, NM plans to improve field medicolegal death investigation by employing Project ECHO: Medicolegal Death Investigation (ECHO: MDI) to provide weekly virtual training seminar available to all MDl's across the state. ECHO: MDI was launched at the Office of the Medical Investigator in 2015 and is modeled after the nationally accepted Project ECHO.


Date Created: September 12, 2019