ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT (Chapters 1 through 182)
COUNTIES AND COUNTY OFFICERS
MEDICAL EXAMINERS AND INQUESTS
Release of body; pronouncement of death
Section 13. After investigation or examination by the office, the body shall be released to the person with the proper legal authority to receive it, including the surviving spouse, the next of kin, or any friend of the deceased, who shall have priority in the order named. If the body is unidentified or unclaimed after the investigation is completed, the medical examiner shall release it to the department of public welfare, which shall bury it in accordance with section eighteen of chapter one hundred and seventeen. Prior to the release of such unidentified or unclaimed body to the department of public welfare, the chief medical examiner or his designee shall certify to the city or town clerk in the municipality where the death occurred the facts of the death as required by section nine of chapter forty-six. If further identifying information is developed, the chief medical examiner or his designee shall furnish a completed certificate of death, as required by said section nine, to the city or town clerk.
In cases where jurisdiction is declined by the office, medical examiners shall have no responsibility for the pronouncement or certification of death. Immediately after pronouncement of death, a physician licensed in the commonwealth who attended the decedent during the decedent’s last illness, or his covering physician, or the licensed physician who has declared such person dead, or, if the death occurred in a hospital, a hospital medical officer duly authorized by the administrator, shall, in the order named, furnish for registration a standard certificate of death as required by said section nine. The chief medical examiner or his designee may allow any body to be moved without pronouncement if excessive hardship to the family of the decedent would otherwise result. The office may promulgate regulations further defining the circumstances in which a body may be moved without pronouncement of death. Any physician described herein who refuses to pronounce and certify death in accordance with said section nine of chapter forty-six when jurisdiction has been declined by the office shall be subject to a fine of not more than five hundred dollars. Such refusal shall also be reported to the board of registration in medicine. The chief medical examiner or his designee may waive the requirements of this paragraph and assume jurisdiction for the purpose of certifying the facts of the death as required by said section nine in cases where excessive hardship would otherwise result due to travel or in other emergency situations as may be defined by regulations promulgated by the office.