|A smooth and
cooperative relationship is required between the Medical Examiner’s office
and local funeral homes in order that funeral directors can liaise with
families, provide prompt information about the examination process, and
make arrangements to schedule the collection of the deceased for a funeral
or cremation in a timely manner.
a body taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office?
will be transported into the care of the Medical Examiner if unnatural
or suspicious circumstances surround the cause of death, or if the deceased
is the victim of a crime or accident. By law, and to protect public
safety, the Medical Examiner must determine a cause of death and prepare
a death certificate.
Medical Examiner will conduct a series of tests and an examination to assess
what the cause of death was. In some cases this can be merely an
external examination and toxicology, in other cases an autopsy may be required.
The Medical Examiner may also make observations at the scene of the death
to collect data that may help determine the events that may have caused
if your loved one died unexpectedly, violently, or without an obvious cause
of death the authorities may call in the Medical Examiner and the body
may then be taken to the Medical Examiner’s morgue for an examination to
be performed. Medical Response teams and law enforcement officers
are required to call in the Medical Examiner if they arrive at the scene
of a death where they determine the cause of death to need investigation.
directors are also required to conform to certain guidelines about referring
death cases to the Medical Examiner if certain circumstances are evident.
So if a funeral director is called to make a residential collection and
feels that the circumstances surrounding the death may not be clearly apparent,
he is obligated to call in the Medical Examiner.
autopsy be performed if the body is at the Medical Examiners?
because the deceased is taken to the Medical Examiner’s morgue does not
necessarily mean an autopsy will be performed. This will be determined
by the Medical Examiner reviewing the case and cause of death.
needed from the next of kin to perform an autopsy?
the state-mandated function of the ME’s office is to protect public safety.
If it is deemed necessary to conduct an autopsy, one will be performed.
However, the Medical Examiner’s office understand that some families may
not wish to have an autopsy performed on a loved one, and if the cause
of death can be adequately ascertained without an autopsy, the need for
an autopsy can be avoided. Sometimes the needs of law enforcement
agencies dictate that an autopsy report be submitted.
view the deceased at the Medical Examiner’s Office?
Medical Examiner’s office does not facilitate viewings of the body.
An ID is required to identify the body but this is generally facilitated
using a photo of the face of the deceased and possibly any identifying
marks such as tattoos, scars or moles etc.
open-casket service be conducted after an autopsy?
funeral director can still arrange an open-casket service after an autopsy
has been performed. A medical examination is conducted with respect
for the deceased and in a professional manner that should not interfere
with a viewing of the deceased. As long as the deceased was in a
suitable condition for a viewing prior to the autopsy.
we get the deceased released from the Medical Examiner’s office?
can only be released from the Medical Examiner’s office into the care of
a funeral director. Once the medical examination has been conducted,
arrangements can be made for the deceased to be transported to the funeral
home. If your loved one is held at the Medical Examiners, then it
is wise to select a funeral home or cremation provider to handle pending
funeral arrangements. The designated funeral home will then liaise
with the Medical Examiner’s office for you, and notify you when the deceased
is released into their care.
death certificates, cremation permits and any transit permit required are
given to the funeral director when he collects the deceased from the Medical
the Funeral Home or Cremation Provider?
the responsibility of the legal next of kin to select and contract a funeral
home. The funeral home will then take care of all required legal
matters pertaining to obtaining the death certificate and the release of
the body to the funeral home.
I obtain a certified copy of the death certificate?
director will provide you with certified copies of the death certificate.
Alternatively additional certified copies can be obtained from your local
county vital records office.
I obtain copies of the Medical Examiner’s report?
Examiner’s report will be made publicly available usually within 4-6 months
after the cause of death has been determined. There is generally
a fee to obtain a copy.
can the Medical Examiner hold the body for?
depend on how straight-forward the determination of the cause of death
is. As soon as the examination is completed a signed authorization
from the legal next of kin is required for the ME’s office to release the
deceased to the funeral home. The funeral director will generally
complete this paperwork with you so that he can take it to the Medical
Examiner when he receives notification that the body is ready to be released.
Medical Examiner understands that it is a fraught time for relatives and
they generally try and expedite the process where possible. This
is also why it is easier to ensure you have enlisted a funeral home as
soon as possible, as a funeral director is familiar with the Medical Examiner’s
office, who to contact and the procedures for releasing a body.
the Medical Examiner will try to conduct the examination within 24 to 48
hours after the deceased has been brought to the ME’s office. In
most cases the deceased can be released to the funeral home once the medical
examination has been completed. However, if there are suspicious
circumstances, or the case is a homicide, the deceased may be held for
some additional time.
I claim a body that is held at the morgue?
to appoint a funeral director from a funeral home or a cremation society
as only licensed funeral directors can collect the deceased from the Medical
sooner you select a funeral services provider to handle the funeral services,
they can begin to communicate with the Medical Examiner’s office with a
view to getting the deceased released into their care as soon as is possible.
I arrange an affordable cremation if the deceased is at the county morgue?
just wish to arrange for a simple cremation after the medical examination,
you will still need to appoint a funeral service provider or cremation
company. They will complete the necessary forms with you to authorize
a direct cremation. A direct cremation is where the deceased is collected
and then a cremation performed without any ceremony or services.
It is the most economical way to arrange a simple disposition.
Once the funeral home or crematory have performed the cremation, they can
make the cremated remains available for you to collect.
process to liaise with the Medical Examiner and collect the deceased from
the morgue is a routine procedure for a funeral home or cremation company.
Therefore, in many counties the price charged for a direct cremation from
the Medical Examiner can be maintained at a low cost.
Medical Examiner will not generally refer you to a funeral home as this
can be seen to be favoring a specific funeral services provider.
If you do not have a funeral services provider selected you will need to
find one. This can often be determined by what type of funeral services
you require and what funds you have.
is certainly far cheaper than a traditional burial, although a simple direct
burial can be carried out inexpensively.
is also wise to compare cremation prices as these can vary quite significantly
for a direct cremation. You can compare online, or phone a few funeral
homes, asking about a “direct cremation service”.
Memorials is a network of affordable cremation providers who offer a low
cost direct cremation service package. This can especially be facilitated
where the deceased is located at the county morgue or Medical Examiner’s
office and the death certificate and cremation permit are released with
the deceased. Visit www.dfsmemorials.com
to find your nearest cremation provider and their cost.
you have further questions about what happens when your loved one has been
transferred into the care of the Medical Examiner, please speak with your
funeral director, or contact your county Coroner or Medical Examiner’s
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.