Policies and Procedures of Public Interest | Print |

Autopsy Reports
In general, a fee is charged for providing copies of autopsy reports and other documents (see "How We can Help You"). However, upon request, a free copy of the autopsy report will be provided to to the legal next of kin (the person who assumed responsibility for burial/disposition of the deceased), unless applicable laws or legal actions would not allow for provision of such a copy.

Notification of Case Status
When completion of our investigation will be delayed, as might occur when we we must wait for laboratory results, an attempt is made to contact the next of kin to inform them of case status.   It is not unusual for a case to require 4 to 6 weeks or longer for completion when lab tests, special studies, or other investigative information is needed. If you have questions about case status you may call at any time and request to speak with an investigator or the medical examiner who is managing the case.

Proof of Death Form
In some cases, we cannot complete the death certificate immediately because we must wait for laboratory test results or other special examinations. However, some families need a formal document so the processing of insurance or estate settlement may begin. In such cases, we can provide a "Proof of Death" form which will usually be adequate until the actual death certificate can be completed. Contact the office (404-613-4400) to request such a form.

Retention of Organs/Human Parts
In some cases, it is necessary for the medical examiner to retain one or more organs or human parts so that special tests or examinations may be conducted to determine or document the cause, manner, and circumstances of death. Sometimes, the organ (such as brain, heart, eyes, or other organ) may need to be kept even though the deceased body has been released to the funeral home. When this occurs, the funeral and burial or cremation may occur before the medical examiner completes the examination of the retained organ. In such cases, the medical examiner will retain the organ for a minimum of 90 days. If no request is made by the family to obtain the organ,   a disposition will then be made by the medical examiner sometime after the 90 day period. This is usually accomplished by incineration. When an organ is retained by the medical examiner, it is office policy to indicate in the autopsy report that the organ has been retained. It is the responsibility of the legal next-of-kin to contact the medical examiner if return of the organ is desired. In such cases, return can be coordinated with the funeral director who took care of the funeral arrangements in the case. Organs are retained only when necessary to facilitate proper examination. In most cases, no whole organs are retained.