How do I know if a private autopsy will help? Can I talk my decision through with Autopsy Center?
If you’re feeling unsettled after a loss, give us a call. Sometimes it helps to sort through any questions you may have about a loss. Sometimes we can offer options you may not be aware of (for example, just sampling a lung mass with a small incision to see if it was cancer after all). Sometimes, a complete autopsy will be more helpful to ensure peace of mind. And sometimes, it’s the talking that helps — it may become clear that going back to the clinician for a discussion will be enough to get your questions answered. You don’t have to decide beforehand. You may know you’re ready to request an autopsy; or you may just have an unsettling feeling that you need some more information. We’re experienced talking with you wherever your starting point may be. While we won’t make the decision for you, we will listen to you and provide sound medical options for you to consider. Back to top of page.
How do I start the process?
If you are ready to arrange an autopsy, or even if you are just considering the idea, have the legal next of kin or power of attorney for health care call us at 855-828-8677 (855-8-AUTOPSY). The order for legal next of kin in Illinois is: spouse, adult child, parent, sibling. We’ll talk you through the process. Back to top of page
I thought only hospitals, coroners and medical examiners could perform autopsies. Is that true?
No. You have the right to choose your service provider – as long as the state (coroner or medical examiner) is not required by law to perform the autopsy first. When the death occurs in a hospital, the Autopsy Center can perform the case. When a death occurs outside a hospital (for example, at home), the Autopsy Center can perform the case. If the state (coroner or medical examiner) does perform the autopsy, you may still request a “second autopsy.” Back to top of page
Can there be a viewing after an autopsy?
Yes. There can always be a viewing after an autopsy. Back to top of page
Who may request an autopsy?
Only the legal next of kin or power of attorney for health care may request an autopsy. A consent form (also called an Authorization for Autopsy) must be completed prior to any case being performed. Back to top of page
What if I need to know what happened but am concerned about disturbing the body?
The body is always treated with respect and dignity. And you have the legal right to decide how much or how little of the body is examined. Talk to the Autopsy Center about your concerns and questions. Back to top of page
How much does an autopsy cost?
The cost of an autopsy depends on how much or how little of the body is examined (per the family’s wishes) and what other testing is performed (for example, toxicology). The Autopsy Center will work with the family to provide options while maintaining standard of care and excellence. On average, the price can range from $1,000 to $5,000. Back to top of page
Where will the case be performed?
Casework is performed in the funeral home, if you prefer, or at our facility. Back to top of page
How long does an autopsy take?
On average, a typical autopsy will take four or five hours. However, the Autopsy Center provides extremely thorough service and the time spent with the body depends on many factors. Each case is different. Back to top of page
When will the body be released for burial or cremation?
The body is released back into the custody of the funeral home and family as soon as the case is completed. Back to top of page
When will I receive the report?
The Final Report will be completed and mailed to you approximately 2 months after the date of the case. A general letter describing the results in regular words will be mailed with the Final Report. Back to top of page
Can we meet to talk about the results?
Yes. We have an office for meetings with families in downtown Chicago. Family meetings are often a helpful way to talk about the results and go through any questions you may have. Back to top of page
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We understand it’s your time to make sense of a loss and are here for you. Please also let us know what questions you may have.