Q:

How do you obtain a free autopsy report?

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Quick Answer

Obtain a free autopsy report by submitting a written request to the office of the chief medical examiner in charge of the autopsy. Some hospitals perform hospital autopsies, which are not the same as forensic autopsies, and it is possible to obtain a free copy by sending a written request to the hospital's medical records department.

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Full Answer

To receive an autopsy report, you must be a legal next of kin relative of the deceased, and the written request must include the name of the deceased and date of death. In addition, you must submit your name, address and relationship to the deceased. It can take up to several months to receive an autopsy report. The chief medical examiner in some states does not typically send family members a copy of the autopsy report if a person's death was due to a homicide. Consult state laws regarding the release of autopsies to the public.

After the forensic pathologist is done performing the autopsy, he contacts the legal next of kin and gives a verbal report on his findings within 24 to 48 hours. Verbal findings are based on a short report called a provisional anatomical diagnosis. The forensic examiner might also order toxicology tests, which increases the amount of time it takes to prepare a final autopsy report.

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