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There are a number of reasons autopsies are performed. However, the basic reason is to determine the cause and manner of death when it is not known, also to gather evidence for presentation in a court of law.
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Most cases that are investigated by the Coroner's office are reviewed and closed within 7 to 21 days. If a case is pending toxicology or microscopic examination, a cause and manner of death could take up to 10 weeks for final results.
Not always. If the death is a "Natural Death" and cause of death can be determined by past medical history or from an external exam the Coroner will normally not perform an autopsy.
An autopsy is performed on all:
Due to legal and health issues, visitation of the loved one is done only at the funeral home after the body is properly prepared.
An autopsy report is an investigative record. It can only be released to the next-of-kin or an insurance company who has a claim arising from the death per IC 36-2-14-18.
No, when the Coroner orders the autopsy there is no cost to the family.
Contact the funeral director of your choice as soon as possible and advise him / her what has transpired. Your funeral director will then coordinate further arrangements with the Coroner's office and help you begin the preparations for your loved one's funeral.
Public information that must be released upon request, Section 36-2-14-18 of the Indiana Code says that the coroner is required to make available for public inspection and copying the following information:
Information regarding an autopsy, if performed, limited to the date,
Everyone would say homicide, and yes, that is correct. Suicides and all accidents are also to be investigated by the coroner. But by far the largest segment of the deaths to be investigated by the coroner is in the natural manner.
Most county health departments report a 1% rate in each county per year. Of this total, the coroner investigates about 12% of the cases. So if you have 200,000 people in your county and 1% dies this year, then you will have 2,000 deaths. The coroners will then investigate about 240 cases with 60-70% of these natural deaths.
Natural deaths include people who have no attending physician to sign the death certificate. It is also composed of those individuals who die suddenly and unexpectedly, even though they have been seen recently by a physician. They include individuals who have affected their health by the use of drugs or alcohol.
All deaths of inmates while incarcerated or when the eventual cause of death is found to have originated while the victim was incarcerated is another type of death that is investigated by the coroner. Deaths of individuals who die of a disease that might constitute a threat to public health are also reviewed.
Deaths of people whose bodies are to be cremated, buried at sea, transported out of state, or otherwise are unavailable for pathological study must be reviewed by the coroner. Deaths of transplant surgery donors that are the result of some type of trauma are also reviewed.
In the state of Indiana the autopsy must be performed by a Board Certified Pathologist. In St. Joseph County most cases use a Forensic pathologist.
The following is a list of deaths in which the Coroner's Office is contacted:
The coroner will determine if the death will be investigated or if the death certificate can be routinely signed by the attending physician.
The Health Department issues Death Certificates.
The Health Department is located on the 8th Floor of the County-City Building.