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Private Autopsy

Published on: 6/19/2014 3:31 PM
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Request for Private Autopsy
The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office is mandated by law to investigate both the cause and manner of death for all violent, sudden, unusual or unattended deaths. Although we complete a thorough investigation into each of these cases, an autopsy is not always required before making a professional medical determination as to the actual cause of death. If there is a request for further investigation for family medical or other substantiated reasons, the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office will assist in the facilitation of a “private autopsy” pursuant to California State Government Code Section 27520. All costs associated with such a “private autopsy” shall be borne by the requesting party.

If during the initial investigation the Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office determined that an autopsy was not medically necessary in order to determine the cause and manner of death, the family, executor, or legal next of kin of a decedent may request/authorize a “private autopsy” in one of three ways:

Option #1: Once the primary investigation into the cause and manner of death has been completed by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, the family, executor or legal next of kin may arrange to have the decedent transported to a licensed facility where a private Forensic Pathologist hired by the legal next-of-kin will complete the private autopsy. All costs associated with this option (transportation fees, facility fees, Pathologists fees, report fees, etc.), shall be borne by the requesting party, and not by the County of Santa Clara. Information on locating licensed private facilities and independent Pathologists will be provided upon request.

Option #2: Once the primary investigation into the cause and manner of death has been completed by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, the family, executor or legal next of kin may contract with an independent Forensic Pathologist to complete a private autopsy within the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office facility located at 850 Thornton Way, San Jose. Since the work will be performed at our facility using our support staff and equipment, there is a fee associated with this option. The current cost to have a private Forensic Pathologist complete a private autopsy in our facility is $1,705.00. Since the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office is not actually performing the autopsy, the private Forensic Pathologist shall be responsible for completion of all supplementary reports and the costs associated with additional lab studies, x-rays, and toxicology studies. Information on locating independent Pathologists will be provided upon request.

Option #3: Once the primary investigation into the cause and manner of death has been completed by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, the family, executor or legal next of kin may request that the private autopsy be performed at our facility at 850 Thornton Way, San Jose, by a Forensic Pathologist on staff at the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office. The cost associated with this option is $2,960.00. This fee includes; (1) an autopsy by a Licensed Forensic Pathologist who will be assisted by a Forensic Autopsy Technician, (2) an Autopsy Report with professional medical findings and opinions as to the cause and manner of death, and (3) any necessary microbiologic or histology studies. This fee does not include; (1) any additional non-medical investigation into the cause and manner of death, (2) any initial or additional toxicology studies, (3) any testimonial presentation in any court of law or administration.