ProPublica Forensics API

With the ProPublica Forensics API, you can get state and county-level data about coroner and medical examiner systems in the United States.

Like all of ProPublica's data, the Forensics data set is available free of charge and is licensed under our modified Creative Commons license. Using our data means you agree to our Terms of Use. Please read the Terms of Use before you proceed.

Requests

The Forensics API uses a RESTful style. See individual methods below for allowed requests.

Constructing a Request

The Forensics API only accepts GET requests. All requests begin with http://projects.propublica.org/forensics

Response Formats

The Forensics API is available in json and xml formats. Data is also available as jsonp, by passing in a callback parameter.

Parameters

Parameters vary by method, see individual methods for required and optional parameters. All methods require format.

Geo Fields

Field Description Possible values
name State or county Name.
kind Whether the geo is a state or a county state, county
postal_abbreviation State postal abbreviation (e.g. TX). If the geo is a county, the postal_abbreviation will reflect its parent state.
note Extra details about this geo.
system_types An object containting systems associated with this geo with values for medical_examiner_system and coroner_system. In the case of county geos, we report if the county is part of a state, county or district system (or none at all). If we don't have data, it will return unavailable. In the case of states, we return the same values, though we also add county_state for states that have a statewide system with exception counties, and sometimes for when certain counties have medical examiner systems and others have coroner systems. At the county level, we return unavailable when we haven't gathered data for the county, and we can't deduce the system type from its parent state (i.e. when its state's system is county_state or sometimes).
"system_types": {
    "medical_examiner_system": value,
    "coroner_system": value
}
      
      
values include: state, county, district, none, unavailable, county_state, sometimes
medical_examiners / coroners Arrays of medical examiner and coroner systems in the state. These arrays respect System fields below.

System Fields

Field Description Possible values
stats An array of stat hashes from the given system. See Stat Fields for more details.
website A website for the system.
accreditation Accreditation status from the National Association of Medical Examiners. Inspection in progress, Provisional, Full Accreditation
bc_forensic_pathologists Board Certified Forensic Pathologists working in this system.
pt_bc_forensic_pathologists Part-time Board Certified Forensic Pathologists working in this system.
uc_forensic_pathologists Uncertified Forensic Pathologists working in this system.
pt_uc_forensic_pathologists Part-time Uncertified Forensic Pathologists working in this system.
fellows Fellows working in this system.
note Extra details about this system.

Stat Fields

Field Description Possible values
autopsy_ratio The percentage difference between the actual autopsy rate and the expected autopsy rate according to ProPublica's analysis.
raw_autopsy_rate The number of autopsies performed per 100 deaths.
autopsy_standard_deviation Number of standard deviations based on the distribution. If less than -1, the system performed fewer autopsies than expected. If greater than 1, the system performed more autopsies than expected
population State or county population in a given year.
autopsies Number of completed autopsies performed in a given year.
contract_cases Number of autopsies performed on cases outside of an office's jurisdiction but which they take on for smaller counties.
forensic_pathologists Number of forensic pathologists employed by the state or county in a given year.
pt_provisional_forensic_pathologists Forensic pathologists employed on a part-time basis, meaning anything from three days a week to an as-needed basis.
annual_fiscal_budget Annual budget for the state/county coroner or medical examiner system. (May change to annual_budget since budgets are either fiscal or calendar).

All Geos

Parameters

  • format: xml, json

GET /geos.:format

Geos

Parameters

  • format: xml, json
  • state_fips_code or state_postal_abbreviation

GET /geos/:fips_code.:format

GET /geos/:state_postal_abbreviation.:format

Systems

Parameters

  • format: xml, json
  • id

GET /systems.:format

GET /systems/:id.:format

Questions? Comments?

Contact Al Shaw: al.shaw@propublica.org