How do you obtain an autopsy report?


Quick Answer

Obtaining a copy of a written autopsy report varies from state to state. Verbal autopsy reports are given over the phone to next of kin in the state of New Hampshire, for example. Written reports may not be available until a few months after the verbal report.

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Full Answer

Rules of doctor-patient confidentiality apply to autopsies just as they do to medical examinations on living persons. Next of kin always have a right to an autopsy report, and they may receive one over the phone or automatically be mailed one when available. In some cases, the next of kin may have to request a written copy of the report from the office of the chief medical examiner.

Doctors cannot reveal the autopsy results to any other party without permission from the dead person's next of kin. Submitting a request for an autopsy report requires the submitter to identify his relationship to the deceased. The family of the deceased may share the autopsy report with anyone they wish, but they have to give written permission to the hospital to release the records to others.

The exception to the next-of-kin rule is in the case of a suspicious death. These reports may be released to law enforcement and discussed in court.

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