December 17, 2019
Deidre McCabe, Director, Office
of Communications, 410-767-3536
Maureen Regan, Deputy Director,
Office of Communications, 410-767-8649
Maryland Department of Health announces Acting
Chief Medical Examiner and nationwide search for permanent CME
MD – The Maryland Department of
Health (MDH) today announced the appointment of Deputy Medical Examiner Pamela E. Southall to
serve as Acting Chief Medical Examiner (CME). As
required by law, the appointment was made by the Post Mortem Examiners Commission, which will conduct a national
search for a permanent replacement.
replaces Chief Medical Examiner David R. Fowler, who announced he will retire
at the end of the month. MDH anticipates the search to replace Dr. Fowler will
take six to nine months.
“We thank Dr. Fowler for 17 years
of service and appreciate Dr. Southall stepping in as Acting CME to direct this
vitally important office,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Maryland is
fortunate to have one of the nation’s leading medicolegal institutions, not only for conducting critical investigative,
public health and educational roles, but also for seeking
justice for the deceased and assisting loved ones through the process.”
Dr. Southall, a 16-year veteran of the
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), is a board-certified forensic
pathologist. She received a Doctor of Medicine degree from Howard University
College of Medicine in Washington, DC and completed a pathology residency at
the University of Maryland Medical
System in Baltimore.
The OCME is a statewide agency that investigates deaths
from injury, homicide, suicide, unusual or suspicious circumstances, or when a
person is not attended by a physician at the time of death. The state invested $43 million to open a state-of-the-art
OCME facility in Baltimore in 2010 providing the
latest forensic technology for the work of medical examiners.
Maryland’s OCME also offers the only forensic medicine education program in
the mid-Atlantic region, providing comprehensive
training programs to the next generation of pathologists.
“This Office is
a model for the nation. Medical examiners from across the country have been
trained here,” said Deputy Secretary of Public Health Fran Phillips. “MDH is
exceedingly proud of the tremendous work OCME staff does. We look forward to advancing and building upon OCME’s
legacy of service and scientific excellence.”
with the responsibility of determining the cause and
manner of death, the OCME serves a critical public health role by identifying
lethal injury trends or infectious diseases that may pose a risk to
Marylanders. The work of the OCME also assists with
criminal investigations when a death is determined to have been a
All deaths in Maryland must be
recorded with a death certificate that lists the cause and manner of death.
When a person is under medical care and dies from natural causes, the attending
doctor completes the death certificate. Other cases are referred to the OCME.
The criteria for OCME involvement in a death is defined by state law.
In recent years, caseloads at the OCME have
increased, primarily due to the opioid epidemic. In 2018, the Office received
over 15,000 death referrals from the state’s 23 counties and Baltimore City; from those referrals, it
conducted more than 5,700 autopsies. The Hogan Administration and MDH have
directed considerable resources to the OCME to keep up with the caseload and
assure the highest level of quality and professionalism.
Since 2016, MDH has reallocated a number
of resources to provide additional support for the OCME’s caseloads. Medical examiner positions received an average 16 percent
salary increase to help with hiring and retention in the office. MDH also repurposed
five full-time positions from elsewhere in the Department — two medical
examiners, one toxicologist, one autopsy assistant and one forensic
MDH’s Office of Human
Resources hired a dedicated OCME recruiter, who secured part-time agreements
with nine new board-certified medical examiners for the office.
MDH’s Office of Preparedness
and Response has provided the OCME with technical and infrastructural support
by way of grant funding to purchase testing equipment, storage components and
electrical work, in addition to providing mass fatality supply donations.
For more information about the OCME
The Maryland Department of
Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all
Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and
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201 W. Preston Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-2399
(410) 767-6500 or 1-877-463-3464