How to Obtain Autopsy Reports & Results

By Barb Nefer
Obtain Autopsy Reports & Results
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

An autopsy is an examination that takes place after a person's death to find the cause and any other contributing factors. The procedure is typically performed by a medical doctor who specializes in pathology. When there is a question on the manner of a person's death, getting a copy of the autopsy report and results can give family members closure. As long as you know the place of the person's death, requesting the report is a simple process.

Identify the county in which the autopsy was performed and whether the death fell under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner there. Normally this will be the case when the death was an accident, suicide or homicide rather than an obviously natural death.

Call the Medical Examiner's office and ask for instructions on how to request the autopsy report and results. Normally you will need to file a written request, although some offices will accept requests via email. Always use the preferred means of contact so you won't have to resubmit your initial query.

When you get a response with instructions, submit your request for the autopsy report and results in the manner required. Usually, you need to send the name of the deceased person and their exact date of death, as well as your own name and postal or email address.

When you receive a response to your request, follow the appropriate instructions. If the autopsy report and results are available, the Medical Examiner's office will let you know whether you need to submit a fee and how long it should take to send you the requested information.

If you do not receive a response within eight weeks, call or send a follow-up letter or email to the Medical Examiner's office. You may want to check up sooner, but these offices are often busy and handle requests in the order they are received. Eight weeks is usually a reasonable amount of time.

About the Author

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."