Do We Need an Autopsy?
If there is any question as to the exact cause of death, then yes. Three things must be proven to have a viable medical negligence case:
- a negligent act or failure to act, that;
- directly causes in its natural and continuous sequence;
- injury or death.
If there is a question at all about the cause of death an autopsy will almost always provide the answer. This is a necessary element in any wrongful death case. If you believe the cause of death was from something a health care provider did or did not do push for an autopsy.
I have seen cases where healthcare providers list generic causes of death such as, cardiopulmonary arrest. But, what caused the cardiopulmonary arrest, an unexpected pulmonary embolism or internal bleeding post-surgery that was not diagnosed?
How do I get an autopsy?
Oklahoma law requires the state medical examiner to perform an autopsy under certain circumstances. These circumstances are specified in Title 63 O.S. 938 https://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=99883 .
Deaths that are medically unexpected and that occur in the course of a therapeutic procedure require autopsy.
Even then, the medical examiner will sometimes decline because they believe the cause of death is not in question. If after pushing you can not get the Oklahoma Medical Examiner to perform an autopsy, private autopsies are available and are often done by off duty state medical examiners. Ask the healthcare institution to pay for it. Get the hospital’s management involved and ask that they pay for an autopsy. You can also pay for one yourself. The service is actually called, Private Autopsy Service, their website is: https://www.autopsyok.com/