Denver, CO

Denver Health may examine deceased children for child abuse

David Heitz
Kat J/Unsplash

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) The City and County of Denver likely will contract next week with the Denver Health and Hospital Authority to investigate the deaths of children where authorities suspect child abuse.

The item appears on a City Council committee consent agenda. Consent items are considered routine and only voted upon if a council member calls the item out.

The authority would provide radiologists to investigate the deaths of children three and under. The investigators would examine the bodies for skeletal trauma. The examinations would cost $600 each.

“This service is for deaths that occur at Denver Health and Hospital Authority or at a residence within the limits of the City and County of Denver,” according to a memo from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment to council. “Further defined, if the injury that resulted in the death occurred within the City and County of Denver, it falls under the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner’s jurisdiction. If the death occurs in a Denver residence or if the patient is transported to a hospital with failed medical intervention efforts and the patient is age three or younger, the Denver Medical Examiner’s Office will require this service from Denver Health and Hospital Authority.”

Radiologists will make reports

The Denver Medical Examiner’s office will determine whether an investigation is needed. “Denver Health and Hospital Authority will prepare documentation of the postmortem skeletal survey and provide copies to the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner in a timely manner,” according to the memo. “The postmortem skeletal surveys will be performed by Denver Health and Hospital Authority and in accordance with their protocols and appropriate standards of practice.”

The contract calls for the radiologist to attempt to arrive within 90 minutes of the child’s death. “If the coroner or investigator arrives after the body has been transported to the morgue, Denver Health and Hospital Authority will nonetheless attempt to perform the skeletal survey; provided, however, the parties each acknowledge that a skeletal survey performed after rigor mortis has set in will affect the ability of Denver Health and Hospital Authority staff to manipulate the body and therefore, may affect the quality of images produced during the skeletal survey.”

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

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