National Association of Medical Examiners Position Paper: Recommendations for the Investigation and Certification of Deaths in People with Epilepsy

Academic Article


  • Sudden unexpected death of an individual with epilepsy (SUDEP) can pose a challenge to death investigators, as most deaths are unwitnessed and the individual is commonly found dead in bed. Anatomic findings (e.g., tongue/lip bite) are commonly absent and of varying specificity, limiting the evidence to implicate epilepsy as a cause of or contributor to death. Thus, it is likely that death certificates significantly underrepresent the true number of deaths in which epilepsy was a factor. To address this, members of the National Association of Medical Examiners, North American SUDEP Registry, Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute, American Epilepsy Society, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention convened an expert panel to generate evidence-based recommendations for the practice of death investigation and autopsy, toxicological analysis, interpretation of autopsy and toxicology findings, and death certification to improve the precision of death certificate data available for public health surveillance of epilepsy-related deaths. The recommendations provided in this paper are intended to assist medical examiners, coroners, and death investigators when a sudden, unexpected death in a person with epilepsy is encountered.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Middleton OL; Atherton DS; Bundock EA; Donner E; Friedman D; Hesdorffer DC; Jarrell HS; McCrillis AM; Mena OJ; Morey M
  • Start Page

  • 119
  • End Page

  • 135
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 1