Disposition Authorization

Effective April 1, 2023, Clark County Code 24.18.030 requires all Clark County deaths be reported to and receive authorization from the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office prior to releasing the body for disposition, regardless of where the decedent lived or where disposition is to occur.

The disposition authorization process ensures the cause and manner of death identified on every death certificate is reviewed and verified. When a suspicious or accidental death is discovered before the body is buried or cremated, the Medical Examiner’s Office and, if appropriate, law enforcement can investigate the circumstances of the death and provide families with an accurate account of what happened to their loved one.

How the program works

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office reviews all deaths that occur in Clark County. Before a death certificate is certified, the Medical Examiner’s Office reviews each cause of death identified on the death certificate to verify that the cause (what the person died from) and manner (natural, homicide, suicide, accident or undetermined) do not indicate the need to assume jurisdiction. Deaths that fall within the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner’s Office include accidental deaths, homicides and suicides. If an unnatural death is discovered before the body is buried or cremated, then law enforcement and the Medical Examiner’s Office can ensure an investigation is completed.

How to request a disposition authorization

Information coming soon!

How much it costs

The cost is $70 per disposition authorization as mandated by the Clark County Council. The fee will not be charged for cases of fetal demise. In the case of indigent remains, the fee will not be charged if the cost of the cremation is borne by the county.

Funeral homes need to create an account with the Medical Examiner's Office for monthly billing of disposition authorizations. Complete and submit the Funeral Home Account Setup form to create an account. This only needs to be completed once per funeral home.

How long it takes for approval

Requests are processed within a 24-hour period on business days (Monday-Friday), except holidays. Requests received after 2:30 pm will be processed the next business day. If you have not received a response from the Medical Examiner's Office within one business day of submission, please call the office at 564.397.2595. Please do not re-email your request as this could potentially cause you to be billed twice.

When a request has been approved

The Medical Examiner's Office will enter the disposition authorization number into the comments section of EDRS. This number must be provided to the local registrar of Vital Statistics before the death certificate can be filed.

Possible delays when processing requests

The Medical Examiner's Office makes every effort to process and approve all disposition requests as efficiently as possible. However, requests may be delayed if information provided on the death certificates are incomplete or do not meet state guidelines.  To prevent a delay, please ensure all sections of the authorization form and death certificate are complete prior to submission to the Medical Examiner’s Office.

To avoid a delay in processing please ensure:

  • An underlying disease process or etiology has been listed in sections 34/35 of the death certificate. For example: "pneumonia" is not acceptable and needs further clarification. "Cardiac arrest" and "respiratory failure" are mechanisms of death, not causes of death. An underlying disease process is needed.
  • All non-natural causes of death, including fractures, must be reported to, and certified by, the Medical Examiner.
  • Intracranial hemorrhages must be clarified with specific bleed site and etiology, or whether the bleed was "spontaneous" and hypertensive.
  • Death certificates should meet the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) death certificate guidelines, available at the DOH website.