Frequently Asked Questions

Securing a Private Autopsy

How long does it take for a death ruling to be made?

When will the autopsy report be completed?

Where may the clothing of the deceased be located?

How is a funeral director selected?

What is an autopsy and is there a charge for it?

Does the Coroner need permission from the next-of-kin for an autopsy?

When is an autopsy performed?

Why is a body brought to the Coronerís Office?

How can the deceasedís personal effects and other valuables be obtained?

How do I make arrangements for a body to be released from the Office of the County Coroner?

Where can copies of the death certificate be obtained?

How can I obtain records, including a Coronerís report, autopsy report, and/or toxicology report, pertaining to a death on a case that was referred to the Coroner?

How long does it take for a death ruling to be made?
This procedure is handled differently by various Counties. However, in most cases, a signed death certificate accompanies the body when it is released by the Coroner. When there is insufficient information available to complete the death certificate, a ìPending Findings, Fact and Verdictî death certificate is issued that accompanies the body. This death certificate enables the funeral services and burial to take place while additional chemical, microscopic slide preparation and examination, and investigation continues. At the culmination of these tests and investigation, the ruling is made based on all available information. A supplemental death certificate is then issued with the cause of death and ruling which supersedes the ìPendingî death certificate.


When will the autopsy report be completed?
The autopsy report, also called the protocol, usually takes about four weeks to be completed after the autopsy. If microscopic and chemical tests are performed, this time period can lengthen to six to eight weeks.


Where may the clothing of the deceased be located?
Usually, the clothing of the deceased is released to the funeral director for disposal or use as the family requests. In cases of homicide, various suicides, or vehicular deaths, the clothing may be held by the Coroner or the investigating law enforcement agency for use as evidence.


How is a funeral director selected?
Most often, the next-of-kin discusses the selection of the funeral director with the other family members, clergy or friends. The Office of the Coroner is prohibited from recommending a funeral director. A listing of funeral directors is available in the telephone book as well as other sources.


What is an autopsy and is there a charge for it?
An autopsy is a systematic examination by a qualified physician of the body of a deceased person for the purpose of determining the cause of death. A record is made of the findings of the autopsy, including microscopic and toxicologic laboratory tests. These laboratory tests are conducted before the release of the body to the next-of-kin for burial. There is no charge to the next-of-kin for an autopsy, nor for any of the tests that may be conducted by the Coroner.


Does the Coroner need permission from the next-of-kin for an autopsy?
Ohio Law (ORC 2108-52) provides that the Coroner does not need permission for an autopsy. The Office of the Coroner will attempt to comply with the wishes of the next-of-kin, provided this does not conflict with the duties of the Coroner as charged by Ohio Law including due regard for the deceasedís religious persuasion.


When is an autopsy performed?
Not all persons brought to the Coronerís Office are autopsied. Certain cases are not autopsied where no ìfoul playî is suspected and evidence of a natural death is present. In other cases where the possibility of legal proceedings may arise as a result of a homicide, accident, suicide, etc., an autopsy will be performed. In these cases, both positive and negative information ordinarily is found which substantiates the ruling and cause of death as signed by the Coroner. Under a recent change in the Ohio Revised Code, any child under the age of two years that is referred to the Coronerís Office with no known potentially lethal disease shall be autopsied unless contrary to the parentís religious beliefs. (ORC 313.131)


Why is a body brought to the Coronerís Office?
The remains of deceased persons are brought to the Coronerís Office because Ohio Law requires that the Coroner investigate deaths of persons dying from criminal violence, by accident, by suicide, suddenly, when unattended by a physician for a reasonable period of time, in detention, or in any suspicious or unusual manner. Another reason that a body may be brought to the Coronerís Office is that the identity of the deceased or the next-of-kin is unknown.


How can the deceasedís personal effects and other valuables be obtained?
By Ohio Law (ORC 313.14), the Office of the Coroner will take possession of monies and other personal effects of the deceased. These items are inventoried and released to the next-of-kin. (Money over $100.00 may only be released with a ìRelease From Probate Orderî from the court or a ìLetter of Appointmentî naming an executor of the estate of the deceased.)


How do I make arrangements for a body to be released from the Office of the County Coroner?
Routinely, the Coroner releases the body to a licensed funeral director. The next-of-kin of the deceased person should notify a funeral director who, in turn, will arrange transportation for the deceased to the funeral home and obtain the necessary documents for burial or cremation.


Where can copies of the death certificate be obtained?
Certified copies of death certificates can be obtained only from the Bureau of Vital Statistics of each respective county.


How can I obtain records, including a Coronerís report, autopsy report, and/or toxicology report, pertaining to a death on a case that was referred to the Coroner?
This procedure differs from County to County. To obtain this information, contact your County Coroner.


 
 

 

All content © 2005 Ohio State Coroners Association. Portions © 2005 Novinity, Inc. All rights reserved.