The state medical examiner is investigating the death of a 23-year-old Lewiston woman after she experienced complications during childbirth April 20.

Destiny Crockett had a healthy pregnancy but was put on life support shortly after the delivery of her second child at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, according to family members.

The medical examiner was scheduled to perform an autopsy Thursday on Crockett, who was taken off life support Monday night. No findings were released.

“We will be investigating,” said Mark Belserene, spokesman for the Medical Examiner’s Office. “Any time there’s unanswered questions we err on the side of thoroughness and caution.”

Family members say Crockett was a healthy young mother to an 8-year-old girl. They said the delivery of her second child included use of an epidural anesthetic, commonly used during deliveries to ease the mother’s pain. The newborn girl was admitted to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

The medical examiner’s involvement is somewhat unusual. The state medical examiner investigates homicides, suicides, child deaths, workplace fatalities and deaths in state custody and conducts about 350 autopsies a year. However, the office doesn’t typically investigate hospital deaths when a person is under the care of a physician.

State law lists 11 circumstances under which the medical examiner conducts an investigation. One of those criteria specifically references deaths in a health care setting even though a patient is attended by a physician: “During diagnostic or therapeutic procedures under circumstances indicating gross negligence or when clearly due to trauma or poisoning unrelated to the ordinary risks of those procedures.”

Chuck Gill, spokesman for the hospital said late Thursday that the Medical Examiner’s Office made the decision on its own and that the hospital had not been notified about any findings. “We report deaths to the state medical examiner routinely. The decision to proceed or not to proceed (with an autopsy) really is with the medical examiner,” Gill said.

Gill has said the hospital takes patient safety very seriously and is conducting an extensive internal review of all aspects of Crockett’s care.

Neither Crockett’s father, Wilbur Crockett, nor her sister, Teasha Crockett, could be reached Thursday.

Crockett’s family consented to having her organs donated but the pending autopsy could complicate efforts to use her organs to help others who need a transplant.

State law says that “no operation for the transplant of an organ or a portion of any organ may take place, when the donor’s death occurs under circumstances indicating a medical examiner case, without approval of the medical examiner.” Belserene said in such cases the medical examiner can allow some organs to be removed that are not essential to the investigation.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: @Mainehenchman