Family Information

1. Are all cases accepted by the Forensic Examiner's Office autopsied?

2. Can I prevent an autopsy from taking place?

3. Is there a charge for a forensic examiner autopsy?

4. Where may the deceased's personal property be located?

5. Where do I obtain a copy of the death certificate?

6. Can I obtain a copy of the autopsy report?

7. How long does it take to receive an autopsy report?

8. Who do I speak with if I have a question about the autopsy or the autopsy report?

9. Will acceptance of a case by the Forensic Examiner's Office mean that organ or tissue donation cannot take place?

10. What hours are you open?

11. Why is a body brought to the Forensic Examiner's Office?

12. What is an autopsy?

13. Can the body be viewed after an autopsy?

 

Are all cases accepted by the Forensic Examiner's Office autopsied?

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.
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Can I prevent an autopsy from taking place?

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.
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Is there a charge for a forensic examiner autopsy?

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.
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Where may the deceased's personal property be located?

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.
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Where do I obtain a copy of the death certificate?

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.
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Can I obtain a copy of the autopsy report?

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.
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How long does it take to receive an autopsy report?

Most preliminary autopsy reports are completed and ready for release within four weeks. In certain cases, additional tests may need to be performed that will delay completion of the report for several additional weeks.
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Whom do I speak with if I have questions about the autopsy the autopsy report?

Questions should be referred to the state forensic examiner who performed the autopsy. Contact us.
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Will acceptance of a case by the Forensic Examiners Office mean that organ or tissue donation cannot take place?

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.
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What hours are you open?

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 hours.
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Why is a body brought to the Forensic Examiner's Office?

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.
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What is an autopsy?

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.
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Can the body be viewed after an autopsy?

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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