Can I stop an autopsy or demand an autopsy?
I acknowledge this is a heartbreaking concern for many. The answer is “yes” AND “no.”
As the Coroner, I must make decisions that, on rare occasions, do not always bode well with families. Therefore, the Office of the Coroner is elected. However, I deeply believe, families deserve to be heard if they disagree with my professional insight.
If I order an autopsy, and the family disagrees and does not want an exam completed, the body will not be touched providing the needed time, to bring the issue to court; both parties then will follow the ruling. Homicides are always autopsied.
If the family demands an exam, and I disagree, my staff will do everything possible to find a way in which you can have an exam completed by private pay professionals, donor agencies, or involved hospitals.
Please contact the Colorado Coroners Association website for more information https://coloradocoronersassociation.colorado.gov/ Click on “Forensic Experts,” and you will find forensic pathologists who will do private pay autopsies.
Autopsies do not delay funerals or memorials. As soon as the autopsy is completed, the body can be removed from Douglas County Coroner’s Office for final disposition. The family does not have to wait for a standard death certificate to be completed prior to final disposition.
In Douglas County, only Board-Certified Forensic Pathologists shall do medical examinations for the Office of the Coroner. Before an autopsy report is issued, the following four areas of the exam shall be completed: external examination, internal examination, histology exam, and toxicology. The toxicology exam takes the longest and delays the autopsy report and subsequent standard death certificate by four to six weeks.
Who can receive the autopsy report? Due to heavy lobbying by the media, the autopsy report (not the death certificate), is available to anyone who asks. However, all psychological information must be redacted 30-10-606(6)(c) CRS. This includes psychological data indicated on the autopsy report shall be withheld from the family, the personal representative, and any law enforcement agency.
To obtain an autopsy report from Douglas County, please email [email protected]. When the autopsy report is completed, the Douglas County Coroner’s Office sends it to you via email.