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No. Autopsies are conducted for a variety of reasons. including
documentation of injuries or determination of the cause of death. Some cases
may receive certain forensic tests combined with external examination of the
body in lieu of an autopsy. The decision as to whether or not an
autopsy will be performed is at the discretion of the pathologist.
The legal next-of-kin should inform our office of any objection
they may have to an autopsy being performed. The Forensic Examiner's Office
is sensitive to the needs of the family and will seriously consider their
objection. However, in many cases, an autopsy is required by law and we
will be unable to comply with the family's request.
No. The costs for autopsies performed under the forensic
examiner system are paid for by North Dakota tax dollars. The costs, however, do not
include funeral, burial or cremation expenses.
In most cases. the property on the deceased is transported to
the Forensic Examiner's Office with the body. At our office. the personal property
is inventoried. stored and released to the funeral home at the time of release
of the body. On occasion, personal property may be retained by law
enforcement as evidence.
Copies of death certificates can be obtained from Vital Records of the North
Dakota Department of Health, 600 East Boulevard, Department 301, Bismarck,
North Dakota 58505-0200. The telephone number is 701.328.1855.
In cases where the manner of death is not homicide, copies will be prepared
upon written request at no charge to the decedent’s personal representative and
to the decedents spouse, child, or parent. Homicide cases will be released only
with the written approval of the District Attorney. The written request must
include the decedent's full name, date of birth, date of death, your name and
relationship to the decedent, and an address where the report needs to be sent. Contact us.
Most preliminary autopsy reports are completed and ready for release within
four weeks. In certain cases, additional tests may need to be performed
will delay completion of the report for several additional weeks.
No. The Forensic Examiner's Office supports efforts to promote
organ and tissue donation whenever possible. Our staff will coordinate with
the personnel of the organ bank to maximize the chance of organ and tissue recovery.
The State Forensic Examiner's Office is open to the general public 8 a.m. until 5
p.m. Monday through Friday. except major holidays. A representative of this
office is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to accept referrals
from county coroners and to coordinate the receipt of bodies after normal business
Bodies of deceased people are referred to this office because the law
requires county coroners to investigate deaths resulting from violence,
trauma, suddenly when in apparent health, or in any suspicious, unusual or unnatural
manner. The forensic examiner is responsible for determining the cause and
manner of these deaths. A body may also be brought to the Forensic Examiner's Office
if the identity of the deceased is unknown.
An autopsy is a systematic examination of a deceased person by a qualified pathologist.
The body is inspected for the presence of disease or injury and specimens of the vital
organs and/or body fluids may be taken for microscopic, chemical, or other
tests. These tests are conducted following the conclusion of the examination and
do not delay the release of the body to the next-of-kin.
In most cases, yes. The fact that an autopsy has been conducted should not
in any way interfere with having the body on view at the funeral.
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