This third episode of the medicolegal death investigation special release season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series consists of an interview with Bobbi Jo O'neal, the Chief Deputy Coroner of Charleston (South Carolina), who discusses the unique skills that forensic nurses can bring to coroners' work.
Ms. O'neal first discusses how her training and experiences as a nurse contributed to her being elected coroner. When entering the nursing profession, she had no interest in in the forensic aspects of the medical field until she worked as a nurse in a hospice facility where death investigations by the coroner's office were frequent. It particularly bothered her that her medical expertise was ignored in such investigations. This interest in the interaction of legal and medical issues led her to become instrumental in the establishment of a multidisciplinary sexual assault team in her county. Upon learning that a nurse was the coroner in her county she sought advice from her on becoming more involved in the forensic aspects of medical practice. She was advised to participate in a multidisciplinary emergency response team, which she did. Her background and experiences were critical in her being elected coroner of Charleston County. She discusses the distinctive qualifications that nurses bring to the management of investigations into the cause and manner of deaths. One area on which she has focused is the investigation of infant and child deaths. She discusses the important role that coroners and medical examiners offices can play in preventing various types of deaths by drawing attention to prevalent causes and manners of death.