The Autopsy Process

The Autopsy Process

The Autopsy and Morgue Service is open every day of the year to perform autopsies and release patients to funeral homes. An autopsy can be completed within one to two days depending on when the patient and consent are received. The morgue staff works with the funeral director of the family’s choosing to ensure the patient is available for funeral arrangements in a timely manner. The autopsy should not delay the funeral arrangements.

The autopsy process, including scrutiny of the consent, review of the patient’s chart, and a physical examination, only takes a few hours to complete. (See What is an Autopsy?) An autopsy is a highly specialized surgical procedure that will not interfere with any potential funeral arrangements. Tissue is retained for examination to allow the patient to be released into the care of funeral director so as not to delay funeral arrangements. Restrictions requesting a return of organs will temporarily delay the release of a patient in order to ensure proper retention of necessary tissue for diagnostic purposes. Following an autopsy, a provisional report is signed out within 2-4 business days and a final report is generated within 90 days. However, the final autopsy report may take longer than 90 days, depending on the complexity of the case and the need for additional studies. All personnel involved in the process strive to provide timely answers to the families.

How to Obtain the Autopsy Report

An autopsy report becomes part of the deceased’s 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 report by completing the Autopsy Report Request Form and either mailing the form or faxing it to the Autopsy Service.

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