The Autopsy Process

The Autopsy Service is open everyday of the year to perform autopsies and release patients to a funeral home. The autopsy is completed within one to two days dependent on when the patient and consent are received. This does not delay a funeral arrangement, as the patient may be picked up the same day that the autopsy is performed. The hospital staff will work with the funeral director of your choice to be sure the patient is available on time.

An autopsy is a careful medical examination of the body and its organs by a physician specializing in the study of human diseases. Surgical techniques are used to remove and examine each organ while selecting tissue for microscopic examination or other special tests as indicated. These techniques are designed so as not to interfere with funeral arrangements. The utmost care is taken to ensure the patient’s appearance is not altered in any way.

The autopsy only takes a few hours to complete, from reviewing the consent to performing the examination. Tissue is retained for examination once a funeral director has picked up the patient, so there is no need to delay funeral arrangements. Following an autopsy, a preliminary report is signed out within 2-4 working days and a final report is generated in 60 working days.

How to Obtain the Autopsy Report

An autopsy report becomes part of the deceased hospital medical record. The finalized report can be obtained through Yale-New Haven Hospital Medical Records. The person who gave consent can also receive a copy of the finalized reports by sending a written request to the Autopsy Service. The request must include the patient’s name and date of birth as well as a picture identification of the requesters with a name and mailing address.

Due to HIPAA regulation, we cannot fax a copy of the report, nor can we provide a copy to anyone other than the person who consented to the autopsy.