To ensure the highest professional standards, a final autopsy report is issued only after all necessary tests have been completed and records thoroughly checked for accuracy. To ensure accuracy, many tests take several weeks, or even months to complete.
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It is the duty of the State Center for the Office of Medical Examiners to correctly identify and document the cause of death. If the autopsy is performed by the State Center for the Office of Medical Examiners , there is no charge for the autopsy procedure to the family.
Identification of persons not visually identifiable is achieved through dental examination, x-rays, fingerprint comparison or other forensic techniques. In some instances, identification is established using facts gathered by the ADME together with individual, unique characteristics of the deceased scars, tattoos, etc.
Can the deceased be viewed at the OCME? Unfortunately, the OCME does not have the facility or the staff to accommodate viewing requests. The deceased may be viewed in a more appropriate environment, such as a licensed funeral home or crematorium. Who pays for an autopsy? New Hampshire law permits the next-of-kin to claim and transport their loved one without the assistance of a funeral home. However, most people contact a funeral home or cremation service to make appropriate arrangements for transportation, memorial, burial and crematory services.
If you are not from New Hampshire, you may wish to select a local funeral home from your hometown to assist you. They will contact a New Hampshire funeral home and work together to meet your family's needs. How long will the deceased stay at the OCME?
Advisory Legal Opinion - Medical examiners act, public records
In most cases, the deceased can be released to a funeral home immediately following the autopsy, usually within 24 to 48 hours of arrival at OCME. However, the deceased may remain at OCME for as long as required to make the necessary funeral arrangements. What happens to personal property? Where an autopsy will not be performed, personal property on the deceased at the time of death is normally removed and released to the family or law enforcement.
If an autopsy is performed, the personal property will be transported to the OCME along with the deceased.
Such property may include photo-identification such as a driver's license , prescription medications and other personal items on or associated with the deceased. The identification and medications are retained at the OCME. Other personal items are typically released with the deceased to the funeral home following the autopsy.
In certain cases, involving potential criminal conduct, personal effects are considered "evidence" and are turned over to the investigating law enforcement agency.
How can I obtain an autopsy report? Following autopsy, an initial verbal report will be made to the next-of-kin by telephone. It is a system that is centuries old and originated in Great Britain. It is found throughout the world in countries that were former British colonies, including Canada. Although there are some differences between the two systems, the ultimate goal of each is the same—to investigate certain deaths defined in their legislation and establish the identity of the deceased together with the cause of death and the manner of death. Almost all Canadian Coroner and Medical Examiner systems have some provision for going beyond an investigation of the death to a public "inquisitional" hearing, referred to as an Inquest or Public Inquiry.
One of the primary purposes of this type of hearing is to develop recommendations for the prevention of similar deaths in the future without making any findings of fault. The cause of death is defined as the disease or injury that initiates the chain of events ending in death with no implication of any time limit.
The manner of death is also referred to as the means by which death occurs. The five manners are:. Natural: All deaths where a disease initiates the chain of events ending in death. Accident: All deaths where an injury initiates the chain of events ending in death and there is no element of intent in the circumstances leading to the injury.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Autopsies
Suicide: All deaths where a self-inflicted injury initiates the chain of events ending in death and where the decedent intends to cause their own death. Homicide: All deaths where an injury initiates the chain of events ending in death and there is evidence to indicate some intent on the part of another individual to cause harm. Undetermined: All deaths where investigation is unable to attribute one of the previous manners are categorized as undetermined.
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Note that in such instances, the cause of death may be known. Some Canadian jurisdictions also use an "Unclassified" manner of death, but there is significant variability in how each jurisdiction defines and utilizes this manner. An important consideration for both the cause and manner of death is that these are not facts but represent the opinion of the certifier. As with any opinion, there are bound to be differences between individuals certifying deaths that occur under similar circumstances and the strength of any opinion is dependent upon several factors, including the training, experience, biases, and integrity of the certifier.
The CVS-D collects demographic and medical cause of death information annually from all provincial and territorial vital statistics registries on all deaths in Canada. Provincial and territorial death registration forms include a medical certificate of cause of death section, completed by a physician or a coroner or medical examiner. There are approximately , deaths of Canadian residents registered in Canada each year.
It is important to understand that the majority of deaths in Canada are caused by natural diseases that have been diagnosed by a physician; such that when death occurs the decedent's physician can complete a death certificate that documents the cause of death. The remaining deaths are unexplained natural deaths, where a physician doesn't know the cause of death, and deaths caused by injuries or drugs.
The latter are subdivided into four main categories referred to as manners of death: accidents or unintentional injuries , suicides, homicides, and undetermined deaths where there is considerable doubt about what the correct manner of death is. The CCMED project grew out of the recognition of a need for a national source of accessible, standardized information on the circumstances in which fatal injuries occur.
The CCMED data, it will be easier to identify and link similar deaths across the country and reveal patterns of contributing factors in these deaths. The CCMED will also make it possible to obtain additional detail on deaths due to causes that are not specified to a unique code in the current version of the ICD but are important in Canada; for example, deaths involving the use of snowmobiles as a specific type of all-terrain vehicle, or the specific source of carbon monoxide such as car exhaust in intentional and unintentional carbon monoxide deaths. Each province and territory has a list of data elements which they collect, store and report.
This system allows provinces and territories to maintain their own data but also support data collection for the national minimum data set.