Autopsy Circumstances

Under what circumstances is an autopsy performed or not performed?
As a facility accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners, a forensic autopsy will be performed when:
  • The death is known or suspected to have been caused by apparent criminal violence.
  • The death is unexpected and unexplained in an infant or child.
  • The death is associated with police action.
  • The death is apparently non-natural and in custody of a local, state, or federal institution.
  • The death is due to acute workplace injury.
  • The death is caused by apparent electrocution.
  • The death is by apparent intoxication by alcohol, drugs, or poison.
  • The death is caused by unwitnessed or suspected drowning.
  • The body is unidentified and the autopsy may aid in identification.
  • The body is skeletonized.
  • The body is charred.
  • The forensic pathologist deems a forensic autopsy is necessary to determine cause or manner of death or collect evidence.
An autopsy is not normally required when the death is known to be the result of natural causes, adequate medical history exists and there are no signs of foul play. In some cases, a detailed external examination may be sufficient to document injuries in cases with no pending legal issues associated.