How to obtain autopsy reports & results

Autopsy results are not public records, and are available only to those legally entitled to receive them.

Under chief medical examiner’s regulations, autopsy records are disclosable to surviving spouse or next of kin if certain conditions are met.

How do you get a copy of an autopsy report?

Request Report. Use this form to request a copy of an autopsy report from the District 8 Office of the Medical Examiner.

How long does it take to get a autopsy report?

Autopsies usually take two to four hours to perform. Preliminary results can be released within 24 hours, but the full results of an autopsy may take up to six weeks to prepare.

Are death records public in California?

California birth, death, fetal death, still birth, marriage, and divorce records are maintained by the California Department of Public Health Vital Records. Services provided by Vital Records include: Issuing certified copies of California fetal death and still birth certificates.

Can I obtain a coroner’s report?

If the post-mortem was requested by the coroner, the coroner or coroner’s officer will let you know the cause of death determined by the pathologist. If you want a full copy of the pathologist’s report, you can request this from the coroner’s office, but there may be a fee.

Are coroner’s reports public record?

The Public Records Office has made available an online index of more than 13,000 files from coroners’ inquests. The records are for the years 1969-1999 and include information on about 3,000 deaths in the Troubles. People can search a database to find out what files are held.

Can a family deny an autopsy?

Hospital autopsy. The immediate family has the right to refuse or agree to a hospital autopsy of the deceased. They may also choose to consent to an autopsy, but limit the extent of the examination. They can also decide whether or not organs or samples taken from the body may be kept for further study.

How are autopsy reports written?

A forensic autopsy is the examination of a body by a medical examiner with specialized training. If you are authorized, you may request a copy of the autopsy report, which is the written record of the medical examiner’s findings. We do not perform an autopsy on every case that comes into our office.

Are death certificates public?

Death Records. If you are not a relative of the deceased person, a letter or document from the office or agency that needs the death certificate must accompany the request. The Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records offers two types of copies of death certificates.

An autopsy is a post mortem medical procedure performed by a qualified pathologist. Most autopsies take two to four hours and will not interfere with having the body on view at the funeral. Autopsy information can be important to next of kin to offer closure, to aid in legal matters, to offer insight on genetic conditions that might affect other family members, or to help explain an unexpected death. Different states have varying privacy laws on who can obtain autopsy reports and results.

Steps

Part 1 of 2: Requesting the Autopsy Report

How to obtain autopsy reports & results

Understand the purpose of an autopsy. An autopsy is an examination of the body of a deceased person, carried out by a qualified pathologist. The pathologist creates a written record of the autopsy findings, including the microscopic and laboratory tests. Next of kin or other authorized individuals can then request copies of these reports. There are two types of autopsies:

  • The hospital autopsy: This type is often referred to as a post-mortem exam or necropsy. During hospital autopsies, the pathologist use surgical techniques to perform an external and internal examination on the deceased. Hospital autopsies are performed to help answer specific questions about the cause of death and identify diseases or problems related to the patient’s death.
  • The forensic autopsy: This type determines the person’s cause of death, as well as the manner of death (for example, natural, accident, suicide, homicide). Forensic autopsies are also performed to determine the identity of the deceased, as well as the time of death and/or the fatal injury. The evidence collected from the body during a forensic autopsy may be used in a criminal case to prove or disprove a person’s guilt or innocence.

How to obtain autopsy reports & results

Check your state’s policy on autopsy results. Autopsy policies vary from state to state, and country to country. However, in general, most final autopsy reports are available 30 to 45 days after the autopsy. Complex cases may take up to 90 days before the final autopsy results are complete and available.

  • A comprehensive chart of the autopsy policy by state is available here. Some states limit autopsy reports to next of kin or individuals who have a legitimate interest in the report. Several states make autopsy reports public records, though in certain circumstances, the records can be withheld.

How to obtain autopsy reports & results

Write a request for the autopsy report. Most states require a written request for the autopsy report. The details on the request, as well as the address for the request and the request form, can be found on the website of your state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and/or coroner’s office.

  • In most written requests, you will need to include your full name, your address, your telephone number, your relationship to the deceased, their date of death, and the county in which the death occurred.
  • In some states, such as Iowa and Maryland, the cause and manner of death of the deceased becomes part of the public record. The remainder of the information contained within the autopsy report is confidential and considered a medical record. Next of kin can write a request for the detailed autopsy report, as well as other legitimate individuals such as treating physicians, law enforcement investigating the death, and county attorneys.

Part 2 of 2: Retrieving the Autopsy Report

How to obtain autopsy reports & results

View the autopsy in person. In some states, for example Maryland, you can read and review the autopsy report in person by appointment at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, free of charge. However, you cannot copy the autopsy or take it with you without paying for a copy.

  • Check the website of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in your state for more information.
  • The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will have most of the information that you need to request an autopsy report. Most large cities and counties have a coroner’s and medical examiner’s office

How to obtain autopsy reports & results

Pay for the report, if necessary. Most autopsy reports are provided at no charge to the next of kin and other legitimate individuals. However, some states, like Maryland and Texas, require a fee for a completed, detailed autopsy report.

  • The fee may vary. For example, the fee for an autopsy in Texas is $0.10 per a page, and the fee for the autopsy in Maryland is $30 for family members.

How to obtain autopsy reports & results

Receive the report by mail. Processing of your written request will vary state by state. However, you will receive the autopsy report via regular mail. Remember to be patient as this might take some time to receive.

COVID-19 Postmortem Guidance

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Tennessee Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner (OSCME), operating under the Department of Health, is to create statewide consistency of high quality medicolegal death investigation and forensic autopsy services. The purpose of the office is to serve its fellow citizens by protecting the public’s health and safety, participating in the criminal justice system and providing data for vital statistics.

The Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner (OSCME) is responsible for the education and training of county medical examiners, the keeping of records of deaths investigated by county medical examiners, and assuming investigative authority in cases of interest to the state, including mass fatalities and threats to public health. The central office located within the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville is staffed by two full-time forensic pathologists and two death investigators who are available for consultation to the public, law enforcement, clinicians, and friends and family of the deceased. A satellite office located in Johnson City is staffed with one administrator and houses medical examiner records.

Services Provided:

  • Educating and training County Medical Examiners and County Medical Examiner Investigators.
  • Keeping of records of deaths investigated by County Medical Examiners.
  • Assuming investigative authority in cases of interest to the state, including mass fatalities and threats to public health.
  • Supplying copies of autopsy reports and/or reports of investigation by county medical examiners to the public.
    • Autopsy Report Request Form Download (PDF)
    • Autopsy Report Request Form Online
  • Death certificates are issued by the Tennessee Office of Vital Records. Information for this office can be found at: https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/vital-records.html.

Contact:

Adele Lewis, MD
State Chief Medical Examiner

Amy Hawes, MD
Deputy State Chief Medical Examiner

Margaret Hyder, MA
Deputy Director

Fran Wheatley, BS, MA, ABMDI – F
Medicolegal Death Investigator

Lindsey Crim, BS, MCJ, ABMDI – F
Medicolegal Death Investigator

Kristen Osgood, BA, ABMDI-D
Medicolegal Death Investigator

Molly Golladay, BS, M.Ed, MAT
Epidemiologist

Erica Martin, RN/BSN
Abstractor

Leah Vanderbush, BS
Abstractor

Bailey Floyd, BS
Administrative Services Assistant

Main Office – Nashville

Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner
Andrew Johnson Tower – 7th Floor
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
Telephone: 844-860-4511
Fax: 615-401-2532

Satellite Office – Johnson City

Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner
William L. Jenkins Forensic Center
Box 70431
Johnson City, TN 37614
Telephone: 423-439-8403
Fax: 423-439-8810

To request an autopsy report:

Please be aware that not everyone that dies will come under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiners Office of that county. Deaths due to homicide, suicide and accidents come under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner where the death occurred, which may not necessarily be where the incident that led to the death occurred.

Deaths due to natural disease come to the attention of the Medical Examiner if there is no prior documented history of an illness that may reasonably result in death, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease or cancer, to name but a few.

If you are certain that the Collier County Medical Examiners Office investigated the death, send a self-addressed stamped envelope and a written or typed request to:

District Twenty Medical Examiner
3838 Domestic Ave.
Naples, Florida 34104

The request must include your name, the name of the decedent and the date of death. If the requesting party is not a family member or a private citizen, the request should be written on your company’s letterhead.

If you prefer, you may e-mail your request to: [email protected]

You will receive an invoice for any charges which may apply, pursuant to Florida Statute 119, Public Records Law. Once we have received your payment, the information will be mailed to you. No information is forwarded by electronic means.

An autopsy report may not be available until the information in the case file is complete and, therefore, this may delay fulfilling your request.

Any autopsy report that contains sensitive information which may jeopardize the outcome of a criminal investigation is not available for public scrutiny until the State Attorney advises that the report may be made public. Please be patient.

All requests for reports are entered into the file and are reviewed once the file contents are complete. The reports are then mailed to all requesting parties.

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Welcome to Erie County, NY

Erie County, NY Department of Health

Autopsy Report Requests

The information contained within an autopsy report is confidential and treated as a medical record.

The final report is available at no charge to the immediate and legal next of kin (spouse, adult child, parent, adult sibling or grandparent) by clicking on the Request for Autopsy Report Form.

If there is a request for a copy of the report from someone other than those legally entitled (e.g. insurance company or private attorney), the request must be submitted on their letterhead and include a HIPAA form signed by the legal next of kin. The request must be accompanied by a check for $40.00 (made payable to the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office).

Autopsy results and reports are NOT given out until the case file is complete. If the death was suspicious or the autopsy report contains sensitive material that could jeopardize a criminal investigation, there may be an additional delay before it is released.

COVID-19 Postmortem Guidance

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Tennessee Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner (OSCME), operating under the Department of Health, is to create statewide consistency of high quality medicolegal death investigation and forensic autopsy services. The purpose of the office is to serve its fellow citizens by protecting the public’s health and safety, participating in the criminal justice system and providing data for vital statistics.

The Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner (OSCME) is responsible for the education and training of county medical examiners, the keeping of records of deaths investigated by county medical examiners, and assuming investigative authority in cases of interest to the state, including mass fatalities and threats to public health. The central office located within the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville is staffed by two full-time forensic pathologists and two death investigators who are available for consultation to the public, law enforcement, clinicians, and friends and family of the deceased. A satellite office located in Johnson City is staffed with one administrator and houses medical examiner records.

Services Provided:

  • Educating and training County Medical Examiners and County Medical Examiner Investigators.
  • Keeping of records of deaths investigated by County Medical Examiners.
  • Assuming investigative authority in cases of interest to the state, including mass fatalities and threats to public health.
  • Supplying copies of autopsy reports and/or reports of investigation by county medical examiners to the public.
    • Autopsy Report Request Form Download (PDF)
    • Autopsy Report Request Form Online
  • Death certificates are issued by the Tennessee Office of Vital Records. Information for this office can be found at: https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/vital-records.html.

Contact:

Adele Lewis, MD
State Chief Medical Examiner

Amy Hawes, MD
Deputy State Chief Medical Examiner

Margaret Hyder, MA
Deputy Director

Fran Wheatley, BS, MA, ABMDI – F
Medicolegal Death Investigator

Lindsey Crim, BS, MCJ, ABMDI – F
Medicolegal Death Investigator

Kristen Osgood, BA, ABMDI-D
Medicolegal Death Investigator

Molly Golladay, BS, M.Ed, MAT
Epidemiologist

Erica Martin, RN/BSN
Abstractor

Leah Vanderbush, BS
Abstractor

Bailey Floyd, BS
Administrative Services Assistant

Main Office – Nashville

Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner
Andrew Johnson Tower – 7th Floor
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
Telephone: 844-860-4511
Fax: 615-401-2532

Satellite Office – Johnson City

Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner
William L. Jenkins Forensic Center
Box 70431
Johnson City, TN 37614
Telephone: 423-439-8403
Fax: 423-439-8810

Ask the experts

Who has access to the information obtained from an autopsy? Can this information (e.g. about hereditary diseases or conditions that may run in our family) be obtained by third parties?

Doctor’s response

The same rules of doctor-patient confidentiality apply to autopsy examinations as to medical records of living patients. This means that doctors are not allowed to reveal the results of an autopsy examination to third parties without the permission of the next-of-kin of the deceased.

In many medical centers, the autopsy report is first submitted to the physician who treated the patient; the treating physician then shares the findings with the family. The family (next-of-kin) is always entitled to receive a copy of the autopsy report. The hospital is not allowed to give out any information about an autopsy or to respond to inquiries about an autopsy from any third parties. Of course, the family may choose to share the information with anyone they wish, but they must give written permission for the hospital to release autopsy records, just as with any medical records.

If an autopsy is to be performed at a teaching hospital, the case may be discussed at teaching conferences, or the procedure or findings may be viewed by medical students and residents for teaching purposes. These individuals are also bound by the rules of doctor-patient confidentiality and may not disclose autopsy findings to third parties.

One exception to this rule is that results of autopsies performed for medicolegal investigations (those required by the coroner or medical examiner in cases of suspicious deaths) may be released to police or other authorities and may be discussed in court proceedings open to the public. In these cases autopsies may also be ordered by the coroner or medical examiner, and obtaining consent from relatives of the deceased is not required.

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Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

“Investigations and Autopsies”
Public Health Law Program
Centers for Disease Control

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To request an autopsy report:

Please be aware that not everyone that dies will come under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiners Office of that county. Deaths due to homicide, suicide and accidents come under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner where the death occurred, which may not necessarily be where the incident that led to the death occurred.

Deaths due to natural disease come to the attention of the Medical Examiner if there is no prior documented history of an illness that may reasonably result in death, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease or cancer, to name but a few.

If you are certain that the Collier County Medical Examiners Office investigated the death, send a self-addressed stamped envelope and a written or typed request to:

District Twenty Medical Examiner
3838 Domestic Ave.
Naples, Florida 34104

The request must include your name, the name of the decedent and the date of death. If the requesting party is not a family member or a private citizen, the request should be written on your company’s letterhead.

If you prefer, you may e-mail your request to: [email protected]

You will receive an invoice for any charges which may apply, pursuant to Florida Statute 119, Public Records Law. Once we have received your payment, the information will be mailed to you. No information is forwarded by electronic means.

An autopsy report may not be available until the information in the case file is complete and, therefore, this may delay fulfilling your request.

Any autopsy report that contains sensitive information which may jeopardize the outcome of a criminal investigation is not available for public scrutiny until the State Attorney advises that the report may be made public. Please be patient.

All requests for reports are entered into the file and are reviewed once the file contents are complete. The reports are then mailed to all requesting parties.

© 2021 Collier County, FL. All Rights Reserved. | Website Design by Granicus – Connecting People and Government