The Importance of Autopsies in Medical Negligence Cases

It is never easy to suffer the loss of a loved one.  If medical negligence is suspected, important decisions must be made that often have long-term effects. One such decision to be made is whether or not to have an autopsy performed. However, the correct decision is easy to make: Yes. 

If there is a question in your mind about the cause of death, an autopsy should be performed. Autopsies should be performed if the death is suspicious in any way, involves a public health concern, or the cause of death is unknown.  The family of the deceased may request that one be performed.

The autopsy is important to separate the cause of death from the initial disease or illness. Too often, the initial complaint is assumed to be the cause of death when there was actually negligence involved. Without at autopsy, there is no way to prove medical negligence.

Autopsy procedure begins with the general and ends with the specific:

  • First, a visual examination of the entire body is done, including the organs and internal structures.
  • Then, microscopic, chemical, and microbiological examinations may be made of the organs, fluids, and tissues.
  • All organs removed for examination are weighed, and a section is preserved for processing into microscopic slides.
  • A final report is made after all laboratory results are complete.

Autopsies are usually done by a doctor who is a pathologist. In Arkansas, they are often done at the Arkansas State Medical Examiner's Office, which is a component part of and is housed within the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory.

This is such an important step to take, yet is easy to accomplish. Should there be any suspicion of medical negligence, we highly encourage you to request an autopsy.


Works Cited

"Autopsies: Finding Out "Why" May Be Required." Lawyers.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2014.

"Autopsy." University of Arkansas Medical Sciences. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2014.

"State Medical Examiner ." ASCL: State Medical Examiner. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2014.