- What will we get from the autopsy?
We review the medical history and medical charts and provide our opinion about the immediate and underlying causes of death. Also, we provide clinicopathologic correlation of our autopsy findings with clinical history and laboratory data. By request, we
can perform additional studies, such as toxicology, drug levels and genetic tests.
- Do you perform medicolegal (i.e., forensic) autopsies?
No. We only perform clinical autopsies. Although all of our staff pathologists are board certified medical doctors, each with multiple years of both anatomic and clinical experience, they are not forensic pathologists. All
medicolegal cases, as well as, and in particular, all cases in which there is suspicion of an unnatural death, such as one believed to be caused by medical malpractice, by the actions of a layperson or by the decedent him/herself,
should be handled by the county coroner's office wherein the death occurred; Moreover, if the deceased has a history of any of the following: motor vehicle accident (MVA) with injury,
gunshot or cold weapon wound, a mental disorder, or mental retardation and developmental disability (MRDD), these cases must be referred to the presiding coroner's office first-regardless of when in the past such an event occurred
(i.e., MVA injury, gunshot wound, etc.) or condition was diagnosed (i.e., mental disorder or MRDD). Only if the case is not accepted by the applicable coroner's
office will we consider performing the autopsy; however, we will provide only the services/information described in Q1. Be advised that neither our autopsy report nor the attending pathologist will provide any opinion regarding the
manner of death. That is, we will not provide any opinion about whether the medical care received by the deceased was adequate or appropriate, or if any particular medical procedure was necessary or properly administered.
- What is the difference between a medicolegal/forensic autopsy and a clinical autopsy?
The primary difference is that a medicolegal autopsy addresses the manner of death and a clinical autopsy does not. A clinical autopsy is usually performed to diagnose which disease caused the death when antemortem efforts
(or lack thereof) have failed to do so. Also, a clinical autopsy is often conducted, despite the likely cause of death having been well established antemortem, to study the disease process in situ, solely for the sake of
enriching medical knowledge and training. A medicolegal autopsy generally only seeks to establish the cause and manner of death.
- What does manner of death mean?
The manner of death is an explanation of how a death arose and is designated as being either natural or unnatural. A natural manner of death is exclusively by disease and is thereby within our facility's domain and
purview. An unnatural manner of death is when any form of injury or action directly causes or contributes to the death- and is subsequently classified as being an accident, homicide, suicide or undetermined. An unnatural
manner of death thereby connotes culpability, which is not within our facility's domain or purview.
- What is the difference between one of your pathologists and a forensic pathologist?
A forensic pathologist is a board certified pathologist who has undergone at least one additional year of exclusive forensic training.
- Who is authorized to request an autopsy?
Only the legal next-of-kin(s) of the decedent may consent to an autopsy. For more details about who is/are considered legal next-of-kin(s), please select Requesting an Autopsy.
- How much will the autopsy cost?
If the deceased was an in-patient at any of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Hospitals within the past 2 years, the autopsy, excluding transportation costs, may be performed at the Hospital's expense. Verification
of in-patient status by Autopsy Services staff is required. Private autopsy costs vary and depend on the extent of the autopsy requested. Please select Fee Schedule for more information. Some diseases
and conditions (e.g. mesothelioma, medical kidney diseases, dementia, Alzheimer's and others) require extensive workup of special tests, such as electron microscopy, immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry,
genetic tests, which will increase the total price. Please contact our office for specific information. We offer transportation services for an additional charge, at your request. Please select Fee Schedule for more information.
Please note that acceptance of any autopsy, private or otherwise, as well as conduction of special testing for cases already accepted, is on a case by case basis and solely at the discretion of the attending pathologist.
- Will you keep any body parts?
Yes. We will retain only what is necessary to make a diagnosis or to allow for a possible follow-up examination. Some organs we keep in full (e.g. the heart, brain, etc.), because additional sections and/or further examination may be necessary to more accurately
render a diagnosis. All other tissues/organs are returned to the body.
- Who receives the autopsy reports?
For all private autopsy requests: a preliminary report presenting the gross findings is typically issued to the family within 5-7 business days of the autopsy. After completion of all microscopic and special studies, a final report detailing a thorough analysis
and evaluation will typically be issued to the physicians and family within 45-60 business days. For all OSUWMC patients, and those referred to us by other medical facilities: all autopsy reports are sent to the attending physician and any other
physicians designated by the legal next-of-kin. A letter is mailed to the families upon completion of the Final Autopsy Report, typically within 45-60 business days. Families may contact the OSUWMC Medical Information Management Department to request a
copy of the Final Autopsy Report.
- What information do I need to provide when the autopsy is requested?
Before calling us, please prepare the following information:
a) Your relationship to the deceased and whether you are a legal next of kin.
b) Full name and date of birth of the deceased
c) The date, time and place of death. If the death was occurred not in a medical facility and the deceased did not have a history of chronic disease, was the coroner office notified or not.
d) Brief medical history
e) Name and contact information of the primary care physician
f) Name and contact information of any medical facility (hospital, rehabilitation center, nursing home, hospice) when the deceased was admitted in the past year
- If the Coroner assumes jurisdiction, but does not perform and autopsy can I have one done at OSUWMC?
Sometimes the coroner assumes jurisdiction but will not do an autopsy. If this happens and the next-of-kin would like an autopsy, he/she/they may contact the Regional Autopsy Center.
Occasionally, the Coroner’s office will have a decedent brought to their facility but will only perform an external exam. If the family desires an autopsy and the decedent was an OSUWMC Inpatient within the previous two years, the autopsy can be performed at RAC free of charge. However, transportation costs from the Coroner’s Office to OSUWMC are at the expense of the family. If the decedent was not an Inpatient at OSUWMC within the previous two years, please refer to the Fee Schedule.
Please contact the OSUWMC Regional Autopsy Center with questions.