Medical Examiners should Perform Forensic Autopsy


Senior Member
Feb 29, 2008
If Balali died in the State of Maryland:


When someone dies suddenly, is found dead or is killed, family members and police investigators have many questions including: What caused the death? How did the person die? The forensic autopsy is the primary tool used to find answers to these concerns. The following guidelines provides important information for family members needing to know when, after a relative dies suddenly, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) needs to perform an autopsy and/or issue a death certificate.

What is a Forensic Autopsy?

A forensic autopsy is a series of tests and examinations performed on the body to determine the presence of an injury and/or to identify any disease that may have caused or contributed to the death. This internal and external test/examination is done by a forensic pathologist who has been specially trained to recognize patterns of injury, collect evidence and investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

During a forensic autopsy, it is necessary to thoroughly examine the body as well as the internal organs. The incisions needed to weigh and measure the organs are made in a manner that allows the funeral director to conceal them for the viewing service and funeral. Additionally, special tests are performed to check for the presence infectious diseases, alcohol, and/or drugs. A typical forensic autopsy takes approximately 2-4 hours but may require additional time to complete these special tests. If these tests are needed, the death certificate will be issued with "PENDING" as the cause of death while the Medical Examiner obtains the test results. This allows the family to make arrangements for moving the body to the funeral home and to schedule the funeral/burial.

When is the Medical Examiner's Office Involved?
A death certificate must be completed by a doctor for all deaths before the body can be sent to the funeral home. When the person has a family doctor and dies from natural causes (i.e. the result of a disease), the doctor can complete the death certificate. But if the person is not under the care of a physician or the death appears to be suspicious or unusual (i.e. the result of injury), the medical examiner must be notified to begin an investigation and make sure the death certificate is completed.

The Medical Examiner will:
perform the autopsy using several types of tests to determine the cause of death

release the body to the funeral home following completion of the tests

complete the information on the death certificate regarding the cause and manner of death

Can Family Members Object and/or Prevent an Autopsy?

Before an autopsy can be performed in the instance of a non-medical examiner death (i.e. death during a hospital stay), the next of kin must grant permission. However, when state law requires the medical examiner to perform an autopsy, family permission is not required. A family may object to an autopsy because of religious beliefs, as stated in Maryland Statute §5-310(b)(2). In this case, the Chief Medical Examiner must review the matter and determine whether it is absolutely necessary to perform an autopsy over a family's objections. In such cases, the Medical Examiner's office will discuss the situation with family members. If, after careful review, the Chief Medical Examiner determines an autopsy is required, the family may ask the court to intervene and grant an injunction to prevent the procedure until a hearing can be scheduled. These legal proceedings may take several days and will delay the release of the body to the funeral director for burial. It is important for family members to inform the Medical Examiner's office immediately if they have any objection to an autopsy since most begin as soon as the body arrives at the Medical Examiner's office.

But if Balali died somewhere in Washington DC

Forensic Investigation
Determination of agency jurisdiction over deaths based upon investigation

Response to death scenes and observance and documentation of findings at death scenes

Performance of preliminary examinations of bodies

Interview of witnesses and acquisition of documents (i.e., medical records) in order to assist in establishing cause and manner of death

Identification and establishment of items of evidentiary value; maintenance of chain of custody of evidence; and coordination with the DC Metropolitan Police Department in taking possession of evidence

Investigation of deaths for clearance of all cremation requests in the District.


- Kama inadaiwa na itadaiwa kuwa Balali amekufa kwa kunyweshwa sumu ya aina fulani arsenic au vitu kama pulonium210 ni wajibu wa familia kuomba (request) a forensic autopsy ifanywe ikiangalia special poisons.

- Endapo familia haitaomba ifanyike autopsy na baadaye wakaendeleza uvumi kuwa ndugu yao alipewa sumu wajue wanapoteza credibility kwani wanayo nafasi bado ya kuomba autopsy ifanyike mara baada ya misa na kabla ya mazishi au cremation.

- Kama mwili umeshakuwa cleared for cremation na kifo kimetokea DC basi report ya autopsy iko tayari na familia wanayo kila sababu ya kuiweka hadharani ili ijulikane chanzo hasa cha kifo ni nini.

Vinginevyo, bila report ya medical examiner yenye kurule out the cause of a suspicious death maneno ya familia au jamaa zao kuwa ndugu yao alipewa sumu hayana msingi na ya kupuuzwa na ripoti ya daktari aliyeandika cheti cha kifo ndiyo itasimama.


Call ME's office in DC:

Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
1910 Massachusetts Avenue, SE, Building #27
Washington, DC 20003 (202) 698-9000

or if in Maryland:

Post Mortem Examiners Commission

Name Phone #
Chief Medical Examiner: 410-333-3225
David R. Fowler, M.D.
Deputy Chief Medical Examiners
Jack M. Titus, M.D. - Autopsy Services 410-333-3232
Mary G. Ripple, M.D. - Statewide Services 410-333-3265
Top Bottom