FAQ ON DEATH INVESTIGATION
Q: Why is the Coroner involved in the death of my loved one?
A: The following is a list of death in which the Coroner's office is contacted*:
1. Sudden death of a healthy child.
2. Death occurring within 24 hours of admission at a hospital or health care facility
3. Physician unable to state cause of death, after careful review of medical chart, or decedent does not have a physician
4. Known or suspected homicide
5. Known or suspected suicide
6. Related to or following known suspected self-induced or criminal abortion
7. Following an accident or injury primary or contributory, either old or recent
8. Drowning, fire, exposure, acute alcoholism, drug addiction, strangulation, aspiration or malnutrition
9. Accidental poisoning (food, chemical, drug, therapeutic agents)
10. Occupational disease or occupational hazards
11. Known or suspect contagious disease constituting a public hazard, excluding A.I.D.S.
12. All deaths where patient is under anesthetic
14. All deaths of unidentified persons
* The Coroner will determine if the death will be investigated or if the death certificate can be routinely signed by the attending physician.
Q: Is an autopsy always performed?
A: Not always. If the death is a "Natural Death" and cause of death can be determined by past medical history or from an external exam the Coroner will normally not perform an autopsy.
Q: Why are autopsies performed?
A: There are a number of reasons autopsies are performed. However, the basic reason is to determine the medical cause of death. The primary reason is to gather evidence for presentation in a court of law.
Q: Is there a charge for these services?
A: No, not if performed by our office
Q: Can I come see him/ her?
A: Due to legal and health issues, visitation of the loved one is done only at the funeral home after the body is properly prepared.
Q: What about funeral arrangements?
A: Contact the funeral director of your choice as soon as possible and advise him/ her what has transpired. Your funeral director will then coordinate further arrangements with the Forensic Pathology Department and help you begin the preparations for your loved one's funeral.
Q. How long does the office take to close its cases?
A. Most cases that are investigated by the Coroner's office are reviewed and closed within 14-21 days. If a case is pending toxicology or microscopic examination, a cause and manner of death could take up to 8 weeks for final results.
Q: Who can be an organ or tissue donor?
A: Most anyone from birth to age 75 and beyond can be a donor. Physicians will determine the possibility of donation at the time of death.
Q: What can I donate?
A: As an organ donor you can donate heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestine and pancreas. As a tissue donor you can donate corneas, skin, bone and heart valves .
Q: Is there a need for organ and tissue donors?
A: Yes. Every day up to 8 people die due to a shortage of donated organs. Another man, woman or child is added to the transplant waiting list every 18 minutes.
Q: Does my religion support donation?
A: All major religions fully support organ and tissue donation. if you have a specific question contact your religious leader.
Q: Will my family have to pay additional fees if I am a donor?
A: No. Once your family gives consent for donation, all costs related to the donation and recovery of organs will be paid by Indiana Organ Procurement Organization.
Q: Will my donation affect my funeral arrangements?
A: No, The appearance of your body will not be altered. A highly skilled team of transplant surgeons will recover the organs in a manner that will allow your family to carry out normal funeral arrangements.
Q: Will my medical care be altered because of my decision to donate?
A: No. Before donation is considered, physicians and nurses will make every attempt to save your life. The quality of medical and nursing care will not change, regardless of your decision.
Q: How are organs distributed to patients waiting for a transplant?
A: Each patient waiting for a transplant is listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS.) This agency is responsible for ensuring that the donated organs are distributed equitably and fairly When a donor is identified, the donor's blood type, tissue type, body weight and size are matched against the list of patients currently waiting for a transplant. In addition, the recipient's severity of illness and time on the waiting list are factored into the matching process.
Q: Where is my loved one being taken?
A: Your loved one will be transported to the IU Forensic Pathology Department. This laboratory facility is where we will perform a medical examination on the deceased, if necessary.