If you doubt the findings of an initial autopsy, you can contact an independent pathologist to take a second look at your loved one’s case. A second autopsy, as the name suggests, refers to a postmortem examination that occurs after another party has conducted the first autopsy. People interested in obtaining a second autopsy need a medical record review, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This review helps answer questions about the deceased’s medical provider and if their methods, negligence, errors, or omissions resulted in their passing. Second autopsies may prove particularly helpful if the family intends to pursue legal action.
Why Get a Second Autopsy?
Some people believe that a second autopsy only comes into play when mystery shrouds the cause of someone’s death, even after preliminary examinations. People seek secondary autopsies for other reasons, too. As shown by the NIH, a family member may seek a second forensic autopsy due to the following reasons:
- The family is dissatisfied with the initial results
- Questions or issues about the deceased’s death remain unanswered
- A family member has a suspicion that the first doctor concealed critical facts
- The doctor or facility has a history of malpractice or botched work
- The initial examiner conducted the first autopsy in an incompetent manner
Easing the Burden for Relatives
Furthermore, a second opinion for an autopsy can benefit the relatives of the deceased in several ways:
- Discovering hereditary diseases: A second autopsy can help relatives verify the cause of death and determine if the person died from a misdiagnosed or undiagnosed hereditary illness.
- Providing legal evidence: Like a medical review report, a second autopsy gives legal investigators a nudge in the right direction, which may result in the family receiving compensatory and punitive damages.
- Helping the grieving process: When family members receive reassurance about the cause of death and answers for their concerns, they can finally have the peace of mind to grieve.
Second, Independent Postmortem Examination
Typically, coroners and medical examiners carry out postmortem examinations. A second examination comes in when the cause of death remains unknown, violent, or unexpected. On the other hand, the second autopsy may help doctors learn more about the illness for further medical research. But a relative or partner of the deceased can also request a second, independent opinion for a variety of reasons.
Who Pays for the Autopsy?
The preliminary autopsy costs the family member nothing; the coroner or medical examiner orders it because they believe the death reportable, meaning the circumstances surrounding the death warrant looking into. A second independent autopsy comes with a price tag for which the person making the request must pay. The cost of second autopsies depends on several factors. Since you must pay out of pocket, we recommend that you ask for a price breakdown before starting the process.
Results Following the Second Autopsy
A second postmortem examination can reveal new information or provide alternative interpretation regarding:
- The cause of death
- The estimated time of death
- Unusual findings, such as pre-existing medical conditions or positive toxicology reports
- New findings, showing consistency with the cause of death
What a Pathologist Can Do for You During a Second Post-Mortem
Depending on the reason for seeking a second opinion for the autopsy, you may receive a wide range of reports. But in all cases, the pathologist analyzes the details to fully understand the circumstances surrounding the death. Your independent pathologist may:
- Forensically examine records and answer specific questions
- Conduct a paper-based review of the initial examinations
- Review and interpret crime scene photographs, post-mortem photographs, and defense, witness, and defense statements
- Provide detailed forensic statements highlighting their findings and all areas relevant to the case
- Where necessary, attend the coroner’s court to explain medical findings
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 842-6336
Hiring Legal Help
If your loved one passed in a nursing home, you may need to pursue a second opinion for their autopsy, especially if you have unanswered questions. We also recommend seeking the services of a nursing home abuse lawyer to help you navigate this difficult time. Having legal representation may help you obtain fair compensation after conducting a second autopsy.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, our lawyers want to defend your rights and help you seek recovery for your losses and pain and suffering. To speak to us about your case, call (800) 842-6336 for a free consultation. We want to listen and help you explore your legal options.