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View Diary: How long does an autopsy take? (35 comments)

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  •  Not unusual (15+ / 0-)

    Determining cause of death in non-forensic cases is inherently a simpler, faster process.  Forensic work takes more time.  

    In a forensic case toxicology testing routinely includes blood, urine, stomach contents, bile, and tissue samples from the liver, brain, kidney, and the jelly of the eyeball.  More than one kind of test may be run on a type of sample to get the fullest information from it.  Some of the tests take weeks to complete even if lab staff can begin them immediately.  Any positive results have to be confirmed using a second, more sophisticated method.  Painstakingly detailed paper trails of the evidence have to be established and maintained.  And then the toxicology results have to be analyzed by pathologists considering autopsy results, field work results, and other complex information to develop a full picture of what happened.

    Here are some examples of turnaround times given:

    Autopsies usually take two to four hours to perform. Preliminary results can be released within 24 hours, but the full results of an autopsy may take up to six weeks to prepare. ... PBS Frontline

    San Bernardino County sheriff's and coroner's spokeswoman Jodi Miller says King's autopsy was completed Monday. A cause of death will not be determined until after investigators have toxicology results, which typically take between four to six weeks. ... Associated Press

    [Elisa Lam case in LA:] An autopsy was completed on Thursday but the cause of death has been "deferred, pending additional tests," said Ed Winter, L.A. County assistant chief coroner.  The office is waiting for results of blood, urine and toxicology tests that are expected in six to eight weeks. Until then, the coroner won't be releasing any partial or preliminary information, he said. ... Huffington Post

    Autopsy results that will determine the causes of death for a former Syracuse University professor and his family won't be available for at least six weeks, authorities in Orange County, Calif., said today. ... Syracuse Post-Standard

    Verbal preliminary findings are given to the authorizing family member or individual within 24 to 48 hours following completion of the autopsy. A full written report is usually completed and mailed in 6 to 8 weeks. If there are special procedures requested such as toxicology, neuropathology etc., the written report may take up to 12 weeks. ...

    Reports are not available until the case has been closed, normally eight to ten weeks after the date of death.  ... Napa County, California, site

    What if the medical cause of death is not found during the autopsy? It is not uncommon for this to happen. If the cause of death is listed as "pending", it is because we have to do further testing on tissue and body fluid samples that are retained during the autopsy. This does not delay the release of the body for burial or cremation, however, you can expect that the cause of death will be pending for probably six to eight weeks. ... Riverside County, California, site

    Most autopsy reports are completed and are generally available to the public within 6 to 8 weeks. In certain cases, particularly those that require extensive additional testing, this may take significantly longer. ... Pima County, Arizona, site

    "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

    by KateCrashes on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 11:37:21 PM PDT

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