Does anyone know how to go about requesting an autopsy? - AgingCare.com

Does anyone know how to go about requesting an autopsy?

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My mother is still alive. When she dies, I want her autopsied. To confirm the Alzheimer's diagnosis among other reasons. I contacted the medical examiner in my county and was told they don't do autopsies on request. Either the person has to die at home, or for a mysterious reason, or via foul play. If the person is at a nursing home, which my mother is, the nursing home would have to facilitate the request. Without going into all the details, my mom's nursing home will not cooperate, so I can't count on them at all. The person who answered the phone said she "thinks" I could get a "private pathologist" but of course doesn't know anyone and has no idea how to get that ball rolling.


I live in NY, in Nassau County. Any information will be appreciated. Thank you.

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Thank you Rainmom. I appreciate that.
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Christine - best of luck to you. I sincerely hope it works out for you as you wish. I also want to very sincerely apologize if I made you feel judged. That honestly wasn't my intention - I guess I had hoped to suggest that there might be a simplier route to find what you are looking for. Whatever is in store for us after we pass is an ever changing mystery to me - but whatever it is, I've always been sure - a matter of believing with no evidence why - but I'm sure we won't be needing our earthly body. Never feel judged for doing what you believe to be just and right.
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Hi everyone, original poster here. I want to thank you all for responding to my question. Usually, when I ask a question here, I get very few, if any, responses, so I'm grateful that this question has gotten so many replies.

Jeannegibbs--you're my woman. Thank you for coming to my defense. Although this may not have been the intention, I felt very judged by some of the responses, as if I were asking permission to do something "bad" or "socially unacceptable." I chose not to disclose my reasons and open myself up for an examination/evaluation/ridicule of them.

I plan to look into "private" autopsies through both a hospital and an Alzheimer's research organization and I'll be glad to share with this group how it turns out for me.

Thanks for caring.
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My mother's death was the result of an accident she had a month prior to her death. Because the cause of death was "accidental" they hospital pushed heavily for an autopsy by the medical examiner (I believed it was to make sure they would not be called at fault). My mother, in life, was an Irish Catholic and believed that she would need her body later, when she is raised to heaven at the end of days. Therefore, I INSISTED no autopsy. In fact I had to fight VERY VERY hard for them not to do one. Even if the death were natural there is no freaking way I'd allow that to happen to her...not because of my thoughts that it is invasive, but because of HER beliefs during life. Her primary care doctor said that even if I didn't want a medical examiner autopsy that they would do one at the hospital with him in attendance (I think they though I had a problem with the stigma of a medical examiner autopsy...as if they were looking for a crime or something, but that was not the case). What was in fact happening was that my mom's primary care doctor WANTED accident on the birth certificate, as he knew that her life insurance would pay out double, but he wanted to make sure that we weren't going to sue or do something if he did that. He is also my doctor...he is a very good man.

Also, I was given the impression (by the hospital) that anyone can request an autopsy by a hospital, but a medical examiner autopsy is only done if there is a question about the cause of death (as in my mom's case) or a potential crime. You certainly should have no problem requesting a hospital autopsy and they are usually very eager to do them as they learn a lot from them and can add to very important research for the future.

In my case, I intend to be cremated. If my organs or anything else can be used, they will be donated first. If any research company wants a piece of me they can have it. I don't have any problem with that for ME. But for my mom it was a different story.

Angel
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I think we all have probably watched enough NCIS to know what an autopsy might look like so I am not going there. In the UK we can opt for bodies to be given over to further medical science. If so (and bear in mind I don't have a clue if it is possible) perhaps there is an option through that route to get an autopsy - you must know in advance though that you wont get the body of your loved one back - just bear in mind that the soul lives on for ever while the body was only its mortal carrier although some religions do not share this belief I know so my apologies to them in advance
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Honestly, my reaction to the "gruesome" comments and stories I hear when the subject of cremation comes up depend on the person, what is said and how it is said. Often such comments can open the door to a good discussion and a chance to exchange viewpoints and philosophies. Even if it's utter nonsense, in my opinion - it can be an oppertunity to educate, for lack of a better word. But always it is another's opinion - which they have a right to and I respect that. As long as it is not said mean-spirited or in a manner that ridicules, I don't let it bother me as I am comfortable in my own beliefs.
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And do you think those gruesome stories and reactions are appropriate?
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Point taken. In my own defense I can only say - while it is not an everyday occurrence I have had many discussions with people over the years regarding funerals, burials, cremations, etc. While this question here was not asked me in the first person, it was asked me as a part of a group - and it was the first time I've ever "known" anyone to ask about having a private autopsy- it is a bit out of the norm. Next time I'm asked about this same subject I'll know better how to react. And on a side note - I do get all kinds of "gruesome" stories and reactions regarding my preference for cremation - all the time.
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This is off-topic. Since the OP's question has been answered by several posters, I hope she has what she needs and this diversion is not disruptive.

I think my reaction is to the stigma attached to autopsies. There are some very good reasons for exploring the body after life has left it. It does not greatly delay any following procedures. It can happen before a burial or a cremation. It can happen before an elaborate public funeral or a pauper's burial.

If someone asks "how do I arrange a certain kind of burial service," we don't typically think it our duty to inform them of all the "gruesome" procedures involved in preparing a body for burial and all the reasons we couldn't imagine doing that to the body of a loved one. Similarly if someone asks how to arrange cremation we don't typically give a lecture on the "gruesome" process that the body goes through or describe the cremains and tell the poster not to make the disposal of the body "complicated."

We accept that different people have different views about how dead bodies should be treated.

I simply wish that included an acceptance of the sometime-benefit of examining the body medically before whatever will happen to it next.
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Before I get dinged on my spelling again - I meant thorough rather than through in the second use of the word "through". I am, quite honestly - dyslexic. I apologize (again) for my error.
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