The Washington Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners (WACME) is a professional organization of county coroners/medical examiners and their deputies in Washington State.

Lead and Advocate for best practices and excellence in death investigations.

Facilitate the exchange of information pertaining to the duties, methods and official practices of members.

Provide for the essential and continued education in all matters relating to coroners / medical examiners.  

Create education opportunities for our members and the public, focusing on the safety and welfare of Washington State residents and visitors.

Promote communication with the law enforcement and the medical communities and with other individuals and agencies involved in death investigations.

  1. All Counties in Washington State should have a separately elected / appointed Coroner / Medical Examiner.
    Regardless of county population, an independent Coroner/Medical Examiner with both local authority and accountability is critical to objective death investigations and providing post mortem services to survivors.

  2. All Washington State County Coroner/Medical Examiner offices should be have access to board certified forensic pathologists.
    Regardless of county size all Coroner/Medical Examiner offices need reliable and sustainable access to well qualified and board certified forensic pathologists to complete all required autopsies.

  3. All Washington State County Coroners / Medical Examiner offices need adequate resources and capacity to ensure accuracy and timeliness in conduct of death investigation services.
    Delays in any aspect of death investigation or unreasonable caseloads can affect accuracy, hinder investigations, deter criminal justice and impact public health safeguards. Policy options for achieving objectives:
    • Require and report 90% of toxicology examinations complete within 90 days of case submission
    • Investigate cost and service efficiencies of a regional model of toxicology laboratory services
    • Study and report on Coroner / Medical Examiner office caseloads statewide and degree to which they deviate from national standards

More information regarding WACME and WACO Priority Legislation can be found on our legislative advocacy page: http://countyofficials.org/232/Legislative-Advocacy


  1. WACO Deputy Director,Timothy Grisham was on-hand May 11, 2023 to attend the SB 5523 bill signing on behalf of the County Coroners/Medial Examiners. This bill builds on work going back to 2015 that has dramatically changed the medical death investigation system in our state.

    SB 5523 Bill Signing 2023

  2. The Center for Forensic Science Research & Education (CFSRE) is pleased to offer an encore live virtual series on investigation and certification of drug related deaths.  The series is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NAME, and the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI).  Registration is FREE to qualified registrants, and places are limited!  It was previously presented in 2021.  These talks will be presented live and there will be time for questions.  Each has three 4-hour sessions given over 3 consecutive days.

    Module I. Introduction to Drug Caused and Related Death Investigation
    March 16th - 17th, 2022: 12pm - 4pm ET each day

    This is an introductory module concerning the investigation of death scenes with a focus on drug overdose and drug related deaths. Its primary purpose is to introduce new death investigators, coroners, and law enforcement personnel to best practices of drug death scene investigation and documentation. It will introduce major drug categories encountered in drug deaths, and their effects, personal protection from potential drug exposure at scenes, medication/prescription records review, an overview of laboratory practices that assists in evaluation of drug involvement causing death and working with toxicologists to order appropriate testing and result interpretation.

    Module II. The Evaluation and Certification of Drug Caused and Related Deaths for Forensic Pathologists, Toxicologists, and Death Investigators
    April 20th - 22nd, 2022: 12pm - 4pm ET each day

    This course focuses on deepening understanding of drug involved death, leading to the interpretation of toxicology results as they relate to determining if drugs caused or contributed to death. It reviews toxicology and pharmacology including mechanisms of how drugs cause death. Drug categories addressed include illicit, prescribed, and over-the-counter medications with a focus on opioids, stimulants, and novel psychoactive substances. It will review the NAME autopsy guidelines and CDC guidance for the certification of drug caused and related death. Special attention will be paid to accurately recording of all drugs relevant to the cause of death in keeping with CDC requirements. The module will include an overview of what happens in the toxicology laboratory, basics of how testing is approached, sampling and storage best practices, matrix types, laboratory methods, and drug concentration evaluation are reviewed. The recommended approach for completion of the death certificate will be reviewed, with critical concepts being illustrated through case examples.

    Module III Specialized Forensic Toxicology, Pathology and Certification of Drug Related Death for Forensic Pathologists
    May 25th - 26th, 2022: 12pm - 4pm ET each day

    This is an advanced course designed specifically for forensic pathologists and toxicologists with moderate to extensive experience in medicolegal death investigation casework. It is recommended that Module II “The Evaluation and Certification of Drug Caused and Related Deaths for Forensic Pathologists, Toxicologists and Death Investigators” be completed prior to taking this course (see above). The main topics covered will include expert level review of the current analytical approaches and workflows employed in the postmortem laboratory such as immunoassay and mass spectrometry, and interpretation of toxicology results for specialized circumstances to include drug-delivery-resulting-in-death (“but-for”), drug use with restraint, hospital, and pediatric and palliative care deaths, exhumations, US Drug early warning systems, and other emergent topics.

    Info and registration: https://www.cfsre.org/education/continuing-professional-education/online-live-education

  3. The WACME 2022 legislative priority is to increase the supply of available forensic pathologists in the State of Washington. To achieve this goal our first step is to study the problem. We have submitted to WACO a study bill to study the shortage in our state with policy recommendations to be presented to the legislature.

    At the WACO annual meeting on October 6, 2021 - the WACO membership voted in favor of supporting this proposal. We are currently in the beginning stages of creating the study. Should the legislation pass, we will have more resources at our disposal, should it not pass in 2022 - it will serve as an important education piece for the legislature that we could then utilize for more policy driven options in 2023.


Skagit County Coroner Hayley Thompson let's you know about her role as an elected County Coroner