Our goal is to perform a quality, academically-based autopsy that will inventory all of the pathologic findings which existed at the time of death, and will determine why the deceased died and why they died at that particular point in time. Our findings and report will be completely objective. Our task is to answer questions regarding the cause of death and the circumstances which led up to the death, rather than to critique the quality or appropriateness of the medical care rendered to the deceased.
The death of a family member is always a distressing time. This is equally so whether death is sudden and unexpected, or whether it was a slow and painful event. Family members are frequently at a loss as to the cause and the circumstances of the death. Many of these deaths occur outside of the hospital, perhaps at home or at a nursing home. While the Medical Examiner’s Office occasionally assumes jurisdiction in non-traumatic cases, the Office does not have the manpower to evaluate all of these deaths. Hospital pathologists are often reluctant to perform autopsies on individuals who die in that hospital’s emergency room, or who die at home or at a nursing home if the deceased was not previously a patient at their particular hospital, or if their family physician is not on that hospital’s staff. Family members who sought answers as to the cause of death have had no one to whom to turn.