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Information For Funeral Directors

Services   •   Credentials   •   Frequently Asked Questions


General

Phone: 800-886-1AAS (800-886-1227).

When a family requests an autopsy, they often seek the help of a funeral director to refer them to a suitable service provider.

Our pathologists have over 80 years collective experience providing private/medical and forensic autopsies with more than 23,000 collective autopsy experiences. This long and prestigious track record in concert with our professionalism and dignified service will complement the skills and reputation of your funeral home.

Our service driven philosophy puts the needs of the clients first. Our scheduling is as flexible as needed to best accommodate you and the families we serve.

We always leave the work area spotless and never leave facility personnel with additional clean up after our work is done.

We carefully safeguard the integrity of the vessels to facilitate embalming and make your preservation work easier.

During the autopsy process, an American Autopsy Services' consultant is assigned to the case and is available to the family 24/7 to answer questions about any aspect of the process, as well as to be there for them.

American Autopsy Services has great respect for the inherent difficulties families face at such times. We therefore offer all autopsy and related services at reasonable cost without any compromise in service.

When a family requests an autopsy, American Autopsy Services is a name you can recommend to your clients with confidence. Contact an American Autopsy Services' consultant for more information.


Services

American Autopsy Services is a professional group of pathologists offering a complete range of pathology services. All cases are administered directly by American Autopsy Services and each is given a customer service contact who is on call to keep you informed of progress, findings and other details, anytime day or night. Range of services includes the following:

Private/Medical Autopsies. When the family desires a fully independent examination of the cause and manner of death, American Autopsy Services' professionals are ready to assist you. This procedure will answer questions concerning acquired and inherited diseases, so as to assist the family in finding closure for the loss of their loved one, and to assist the surviving family members with their own healthcare maintenance. The family will receive a comprehensive written report including gross and microscopic examination.

Forensic Autopsies. Fully independent autopsies providing the cause and manner of death with medical-legal consultation to families and attorneys, forensic photography, preservation of toxicology samples and appropriate medical record review. This includes a comprehensive report with a gross and microscopic examination, and in addition, the report will assist the family in finding closure for the loss of their loved one and will answer questions concerning acquired and inherited diseases.

Exhumation Autopsies. When the burial of a loved one has already taken place, American Autopsy Services can help the family find answers for closure, document genetic diseases, or prepare for litigation. The loved one can be exhumed or removed from the grave and a complete Private/Medical, Forensic Autopsy or re-autopsy examination will provide answers to the family's questions and determine cause and manner of death.

Independent Autopsy Observation or Second Observer Autopsies. American Autopsy Services' professionals are often asked to represent the interests of the family when the Coroner or Medical Examiner has ordered an autopsy on their loved one. An American Autopsy Services' physician will attend and observe the Coroner/Medical Examiner autopsy and then prepare an independent comprehensive report to include gross and microscopic examination.

Re-autopsy. When the Coroner/Medical Examiner has already performed an autopsy, or an autopsy has been performed in a hospital, families often seek a re-examination or re-autopsy to ensure an independent opinion. American Autopsy Services' professionals are ready to provide this service with an independent comprehensive autopsy report to include gross and microscopic examination.

Toxicology. A full array of laboratory services is available to provide detailed examination into cause and manner of death. The many advances in this field have given pathologists a powerful tool in helping to discover causes that had previously gone undetected.

Neuropathology Services/Brain Autopsy. American Autopsy Services offers post-mortem neurological examination of the central (brain) and/or peripheral nervous system (spinal cord, nerves, muscles and eye) for diagnosis and confirmation of such diseases as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig disease), etc. This specialized examination is performed by a Board Certified Neuropathologist. This service is available either separately or it can be provided in conjunction with a complete autopsy. For more information, contact American Autopsy Services directly: Phone: 800-886-1AAS (800-886-1227).

Genetic Counseling. Medical counsel for families regarding inherited and potentially inheritable disease processes discovered by autopsy.

Autopsy Report and Medical Record Review. Providing medical opinion on standard of care, correct diagnosis, adequacy of care, and cause and manner of death. American Autopsy Services has qualified clinical experts with forensic experience to provide opinions on the standard of care and correlate the clinical and autopsy findings.

Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death Investigation. American Autopsy Services' fact-finding research can help determine if cause and manner of death circumstances suggest possible medical malpractice. We can do a complete autopsy for your client or review the autopsy results if an autopsy has already been done by the hospital or Medical Examiner/Coroner.

Crime Scene Investigation. Expert independent investigations are conducted to answer the most important questions. American Autopsy Services has seasoned private investigators who are ready to assist when needed.

Medical Photography. When extensive documentation of an autopsy is required for any reason, American Autopsy Services provides complete photographic services. The exact appearance of injuries and other perishable features on the body should always be recorded when they might later be called into question in the course of any legal proceedings.

Expert Medical Opinion Services. American Autopsy Services' pathologists are experts in deposition and trial testimony for both civil and criminal cases, having extensive experience in each.

Tissue and Organ Procurement. In the event a family needs to understand the causes of specific, known conditions contributing to a death, or is donating organs, American Autopsy Services will remove the organ and prepare it for shipment to the appropriate research group conducting the analysis or research. This service includes brain, spinal cord, and lung procurement (asbestos related).

Complete Case Management. American Autopsy Services offers a full service approach. Any and all actions requested, regardless of length or complexity, are coordinated for and with the family through a single administrative contact who will work with the family through to final outcome.

Final Outcome. In keeping with a philosophy of leaving no questions unanswered, all autopsy findings and reports are fully and carefully explained. When appropriate, an American Autopsy Services' professional will meet with the family to ensure they fully understand the results of the autopsy and death investigation.

Medical Record Review. Providing medical opinion on standard of care, correct diagnosis and adequacy of care.


Credentials

American Autopsy Services' pathologists are board certified in Anatomic, Clinical, Forensic and Neuropathology, with consultants available in Hemopathology, Pulmonary Pathology, Liver Pathology, Cardiovascular Pathology and Pediatric Pathology. We are also leaders in the development and use of computer and video imaging technologies for pathological and other medical purposes.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is an autopsy?
An autopsy is a surgical procedure that entails an invasive examination in order to determine the cause and manner of death.

Who is most qualified to perform an autopsy?
Board Certified Pathologists are the most fully qualified experts for providing autopsy services. They are specially trained to recognize the anatomic changes brought about by disease.

Are American Autopsy Services' pathologists board certified?
Yes, American Autopsy Services' pathologists are board certified in Anatomic, Clinical, Forensic, and Neuropathology. All are fully qualified and experienced in court testimony.

Can anyone request an autopsy?
Any family member or close friend of the deceased can ask for an autopsy, but the autopsy must be properly authorized.

Who can authorize an autopsy?
Only the legal next of kin or individual (family member or non-family member) with durable power of attorney can authorize an autopsy.

Who is considered the legal next of kin?
The legal next of kin would be one of the following: parent of a minor child, surviving spouse, oldest adult child (if both parents are deceased or divorced), and oldest adult sibling (if both are parents deceased). For more information contact American Autopsy Services directly: Phone: 800-886-1AAS (800-886-1227).

Is the pathologist providing the autopsy responsible for signing the death certificate?
No, the attending physician who provided medical services prior to the person's death is responsible for signing the death certificate. In the event the attending physician doesn't sign the death certificate, then the Coroner or Medical Examiner takes jurisdiction.

When does the local jurisdiction order an autopsy?
The Coroner or Medical Examiner deals with cases of sudden, unexpected, violent or traumatic death. The Coroner or Medical Examiner also makes the decision on what type of cases involving a natural death may be placed under their jurisdiction for further investigation. If the deceased has a significant well documented medical history, the Coroner or Medical Examiner will usually release the case and not perform an autopsy. Each jurisdiction has its own guidelines and these guidelines may vary significantly.

Where are private autopsies performed?
Most autopsies are performed at the funeral home providing services for the family. If the funeral home cannot accommodate the autopsy procedure, then American Autopsy Services will make arrangements to use another appropriate facility.

Who performs the autopsy?
An American Autopsy Services' Board Certified Forensic Pathologist conducts and administers the autopsy from start to finish. American Autopsy Services never subcontracts to other pathologists.

When should an autopsy be done?
Coroner and Medical Examiner guidelines must be followed in each jurisdiction. However, even if not called for by law, an autopsy is always recommended. Any and all questions related to the death can be investigated. Even where there are no questions, autopsies often reveal useful information to help the family better deal with their loss. An autopsy also forestalls questions that may arise after burial or cremation, and the autopsy often discloses vital information, such as the status of inheritable diseases that will assist surviving family members with their health care. We suggest you consult with an American Autopsy Services' representative who can help you decide.

Will an autopsy affect funeral arrangements?
No, there is no change in the appearance of the body following the autopsy. Working with your funeral director, American Autopsy Services will attempt to schedule the autopsy so as not to affect funeral arrangements.

Will the casket have to be closed because of an autopsy?
No, American Autopsy Services takes every measure to care for and respect the body so as not to create problems for embalming and viewing by paying meticulous attention to blood vessel integrity and preservation.

How much does an autopsy cost?
The basic autopsy fee is $3500.00 for a medical autopsy where the family wants to know the cause of death and gain valuable information about genetic or inherited diseases. This includes the reviewing of appropriate medical records and basic medical photography. The forensic autopsy fee is $4000.00. It includes forensic photography; routine toxicology samples; reviewing appropriate medical records, investigative and police reports; and interfacing with the family's attorney. There are additional fees for travel expenses outside of the local area and for specialized services such as toxicology, neuropathology examination, and specialized diagnostic techniques and consultations. Contact an American Autopsy Services' consultant for full details.

When should an autopsy be performed?
The autopsy should be performed as soon as possible after death. When the deceased is properly cooled, decomposition is slowed and a brief delay of several days usually will not interfere with the autopsy results.

Can an autopsy be performed if the body has been embalmed?
Yes. For best outcome, an autopsy should be performed on an unembalmed body. However, if there will be a long delay (beyond one week) between death and the autopsy, embalming is recommended because embalming preserves the body tissues. But please note that embalming does interfere with most of the toxicology studies.

How soon after an autopsy is the report ready?
Verbal preliminary findings are given to the authorizing family member or individual within 24 to 48 hours following completion of the autopsy. A full written report is usually completed and mailed in 6 to 8 weeks. If there are special procedures requested such as toxicology, neuropathology etc., the written report may take up to 12 weeks. American Autopsy Services' personnel will go over the report with the requesting party and answer any questions.

For any questions, please contact our office.


American Autopsy Services, Inc.
Phone: 800-886-1AAS (800-886-1227)
E-mail - info@AmericanAutopsy.com

© American Autopsy Services, Inc.



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