It is the
policy of the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner to perform an
autopsy on all cases coming under its jurisdiction (exception: persons dying
from complications of an accidental hip fracture are not routinely autopsied).
However, we are aware that family members, for personal or religious reasons,
may object to an autopsy being performed on their loved one. Under such
circumstances, the Medical Examiner staff will discuss the situation with the
family after a review of all available information, including medical records
and police reports. If there is sufficient documentation to substantiate the
cause and manner of death, the autopsy may be averted if the family so desires.
Alternatively, if there is a strong compelling reason to perform an autopsy
(e.g. homicide or suspicion of homicide), the Medical Examiner may seek a court
order for the autopsy. Fortunately, this situation is quite unusual.
The decision as to whether an autopsy is to be performed is, by statute, a
Medical Examiner decision. Hospital personnel should therefore not request
permission for an autopsy. If the family inquires about an autopsy, they should
be referred to Medical Examiner personnel. If the family expresses any opinion
about an autopsy (e.g. they do or do not want an autopsy performed), please
apprise the Medical Examiner staff of the family’s wishes.