Why would I want to have an autopsy performed on a family member?

In a word, questions. Most people requesting an autopsy after a family member's death have unanswered questions regarding the person's health prior to death and what eventually caused the death to occur. Others have lingering questions about the care and treatment the family member received prior to their death. Sometimes there are legal questions regarding the mechanics of the death and the influence it has on subsequent liability, insurance settlements, or inheritance. Ultimately, the autopsy is the only way to communicate with the one who has passed on. It gives them a voice, not only to reveal their own cause and manner of death but a voice to notify their family about future health issues that could impact their own wellness so they can take the necessary steps to safeguard themselves.

What is done during the autopsy procedure?

At autopsy, the pathologist conducts a thorough external examination and charts any unusual or remarkable findings. In addition, they will examine all the internal organs and structures of the body. Specimens of these organs and other body fluids will be obtained and processed for the microscopic exam, toxicological analysis and various tests and procedures available, depending on the specifics of each case. After all, testing is completed and the results reviewed, the pathologist will dictate the final conclusion in a report to be presented to the family.

Will the autopsy procedure prevent viewing the deceased at the funeral?

No. There is no part of the autopsy procedure that would prevent viewing the deceased.

Who has the authority to request a private autopsy?

Only the legal next-of-kin, following the law of succession, has the right to request an autopsy be performed.

Why should I select PAS to perform this service?

PAS is the only independent facility in the state that provides professional, medico-legal death investigation services to the private sector. This means we are working for you and together we are seeking the truth. It's not logical to believe that one would request the hospital or nursing home where their family member expired to conduct an investigation that may expose liability on that facility's part. When you select PAS, you have selected forensic pathologists who have many years' experience as medical examiners. Someone who will take the time to sit down with you and explain what occurred in terms that can be understood. Experienced autopsy expert witnesses, who for a usual and customary fee, will be available to assist your legal counsel with scientific testimony should your case require it. Finally, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you selected the best team assembled to investigate the facts surrounding the life and death of someone you loved and have those facts presented to you so that you may have a better understanding of them.

When should PAS be notified of our desire to obtain an autopsy?

As soon as possible after death has been pronounced. Most hospital and nursing facilities request the name of a funeral home to be notified in case of a patient's death. In all cases a family member must not only choose a funeral home, they must also give the funeral home permission to embalm the body. In any event, it is prior to the embalming process that an autopsy should be performed. PAS will coordinate with the funeral home of your choice, so no matter which one of us gets the first call if your wishes are made known, the other will be notified.