When someone dies, autopsy is an option to consider. In some cases, such as death after an accident or death with unusual circumstances, the county medical examiner will require that an autopsy be performed. But in most cases, the patient’s family will be asked to decide whether or not they would like to have an autopsy performed.
What does an autopsy involve?
A specially trained doctor (pathologist) will perform a thorough examination of the deceased. This will include an exam of all internal organs.
Can we make special requests?
Yes. If you have questions you hope will be answered through autopsy, discuss them with the doctor when you give consent for the autopsy. Also, let the staff know if you prefer not to have certain areas examined.
Why would I want to have an autopsy performed on my loved one?
The cause of death of the person may be clarified and the information obtained may be important for the health of other family members. Autopsy may help your family and the doctors learn more about the person’s illness, injury, or disease. This in turn may help doctors learn more about a specific disease that can help other patients in the future.
Will there be any marks visible if we have an open casket?
No. No marks will be visible on the body as you see it in the open casket.
Will an autopsy delay the funeral?
No. The autopsy will be performed within 24-48 hours from the time of death. There should be no delay.
Will we be charged for the autopsy?
No. It is offered free of charge at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.
How will we find out the results?
Final autopsy results should be available in 4-8 weeks, but could take up to 12 weeks. Your loved one’s doctor can discuss the results with you. If you would like more information, please talk with the doctor.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 02/25/2009
Copyright © 04/23/2008 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5466
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