New York City Multidisciplinary Child Fatality Review

The investigation and prosecution of serious and fatal child abuse require the utmost dedication and a dogged perseverance in pursuit of the truth while facing highly emotive issues and frequently untenable odds. This review, the New York City Multidisciplinary Child Fatality Review (NMCFR) began operating out of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) in the summer of 1995 as a pilot project in Queens which consists of the Queens District Attorney and the Queens County Divisions of the Medical Examiner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), and the Administration for Children's Services (ACS). Overseeing the project is the NMCFR Advisory Board which consists of representatives from all five boroughs. By the end of 1996 all five boroughs of New York City will have local review teams.

This project was born of the need to accurately identify and classify child deaths, an area which has shown as much as an 85% misclassification rate on a national level. A death of a child requires extensive cooperation between diverse agencies to identify the cause and manner of death, ascertain whether the death was preventable, and when applicable, facilitate a successful prosecution of the person or persons responsible for a child's death.

The purpose of the NMCFR is to review jointly the deaths of children 10 years old and under with the aforementioned agencies to coordinate the parallel investigations by those parties and thereby assist in the accurate determination of the cause and manner of death. The pilot review has been responsible for discovering that two children who had died of apparently natural causes of death were in fact homicides, has assisted the local child welfare agency in reaching determinations for their child protective cases, and has provided a resource to all participant agencies with the means to understand complex medical phenomena associated with a child's death, especially in regard to child abuse homicides. In addition, the NMCFR has begun one of the most ambitious data collections in the country.

The NMCFR is a project of the Medical Health and Research Association of New York City, Inc. cosponsored by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner