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Once the decedent is received at the MCMEO, the examination will be performed within 24 hours. In cases that arrive during weekends, holidays or periods in which the office has a large number of cases on hand, the time frame may increase to 48 hours. Not every case that comes to the MCMEO gets an autopsy. Cases are prioritized by those in which a funeral home or cremation service has been designated. The legal next-of-kin under NC General Statute GS 130A-420 (b) should contact the Medical Examiner’s Office to advise the designation of their choice. The MCMEO will not accept designations from any funeral service or non-next-of-kin unless previously designated by the legal next-of-kin.
No, the office is not designed to accommodate family viewings except in rare circumstances involving questions about the identification of the body. The Chief Pathologist or Pathologist on call must feel there is an immediate need for a viewing in order to do so. Funeral homes and cremation services are better equipped to accommodate family viewings once they have taken possession of and properly prepared the body.
No. Cases accepted under Medical Examiner jurisdiction are paid for by the County or State. The MCMEO does not perform private autopsies. Please visit the following link for more information about private autopsies.
Not everyone who is examined is autopsied. While the final decision to perform an autopsy is determined by the Pathologists on staff, family wishes or religious beliefs are taken into consideration whenever possible. The next-of-kin should contact the office in order to make the family’s wishes known, but should be aware that the Medical Examiner’s Office must follow legal requirements as mandated by State Law.
Death Certificates and Autopsy Reports are deemed to be “Pending” when the initial examination does not reveal enough information to provide an adequate cause of death. Additional laboratory studies or investigations are required to determine a final cause and manner of death. An exact time frame for when a case will be completed cannot be given. The circumstances of each case differ, and each case is handled independently. Depending upon the circumstances, some cases can take 12 weeks or more to complete.
It can take between 2 – 3 weeks to obtain a Supplemental Death Certificate after it has been completed. The Medical Examiner’s Office sends all Supplemental Death Certificates to the Vital Records Office in Raleigh where it becomes certified and then sent to the local Health Department or Vital Records Office in the County where the death occurred.
Reports are not generated until the case is finalized and approved. This process can take 3 to 4 months to complete in many cases. All requests for Autopsy Reports, Medical Examiner Investigation Reports and Toxicology Reports can be entered here.
In most cases, the personal property is removed at the place of death and turned over to family or law enforcement. In Homicide cases, personal effects that are considered to be evidence are turned over to the investigating law enforcement agency. Personal property transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office along with the body is inventoried and secured in our office until time that the body is released to the funeral home or cremation service so they can transfer these items to family members.
Yes. Items can be released to the legal next-of-kin with proper identification (current State Driver’s License or State ID Card). Arrangements should be made prior to the body’s release to the funeral home or cremation service otherwise the personal items will be sent with the body.
A good place to start is by contacting a local community college or university about curriculum in forensic sciences. One can also visit The American Academy of Forensic Sciences. They regularly post job listings and educational opportunities.
Leave it where it was found and contact the local police department who will respond and investigate. Police will contact the Medical Examiner’s Office for tentative identification via photo and then collect the bone and transport it to our office for further inspection. If the bone is determined to be non-human, it will be disposed of properly by our office. If there is any question about it being possibly human remains, the Medical Examiner and police will coordinate and investigate appropriately.