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The remains of deceased persons are brought to the Coroner's Office because Ohio Law requires that the Coroner investigate deaths of persons caused by criminal violence, accident, or suicide, dying suddenly, when unattended by a physician for a reasonable period of time, in detention, when under 2 years of age, or in any suspicious or unusual manner. Another reason that a body may be brought to the Coroner's Office is that the identity of the deceased or next-of-kin is unknown.
Ohio Law (ORC 2108.52) provides that the Coroner does not need permission for an autopsy. A family may object to an autopsy because of religious beliefs, as stated in section 313.13.1 of the Ohio Revised Code. In this case the Coroner will review the matter and determine whether it is absolutely necessary to perform an autopsy over the family's objections. If after careful review the Coroner determines an autopsy is required, the family may ask the court to intervene. These legal proceedings may take several days and will delay the release of the body to the funeral director. It is important for family members to inform the coroner's office immediately if they have any objection to an autopsy since most begin as soon as the body arrives at the coroner's office.
An autopsy is a systematic examination by a forensic pathologist of the body of a deceased person for the purpose of determining the cause and manner of death and recovering evidence from the body which might be needed in a criminal or civil legal action. A record is made of the autopsy findings of the autopsy including microscopic and toxicological laboratory tests. These laboratory tests are conducted after the release of the body for burial. There is no charge to the next-of-kin for an autopsy or any of the tests which may be conducted by the Coroner.
Routinely, the body is released to a licensed funeral director within 48 hours. The next-of-kin should notify a funeral director who, in turn, will arrange to secure a written release from the next-of-kin, arrange transportation for the deceased to the funeral home and obtain the necessary documents for burial or cremation. Hours for body release are 7am - 5pm 7 days a week.
Most often, the next-of-kin discusses this with other family members, clergy or friends. The Coroner is prohibited from recommending a funeral director. A listing of funeral directors can be found in the telephone book.
Usually the clothing of the deceased is released with the body to the funeral director for disposal or use as the family directs. In cases of homicides, vehicular accidents, and other situations where examination or retention of the clothing is necessary, it will be held by the Coroner's Office. Personal effects such as wallets, money, jewelry, etc., are inventoried and released to the next-of-kin. The next-of-kin may contact the Coroner's Office to arrange to take possession of the belongings or, have the funeral home pick them up on their behalf.
The autopsy report usually takes about 8 to 12 weeks to complete after the autopsy when only routine toxicology and microscopic examination take place. In-depth or special toxicology or other studies may prolong the time needed for completion.
In Hamilton County, the autopsy report is a public record (excluding unadjudicated homicides) and can be obtained by sending a written request and self-addressed, stamped envelope to:Hamilton County Coroner
The request must contain the name of the deceased and the date of death. There is no charge to the next-of-kin. There is a $.25 per page fee for all others. The Office may only accept, by mail, a certified check, money order or business check. Cash is accepted when the request is made in person.
The death certificate will be prepared within 10 days after the date of death. If the cause of death is not immediately identified a "pending" death certificate will be issued and a supplemental form identifying the cause of death will be issued as soon as possible. The "pending" certificate will allow the family to begin processing of the estate. A copy of the death certificate may be obtained by contacting your funeral home or the Bureau of Vital Records located nearest the place of death.
The Coroner's staff of forensic pathologists is available to discuss their autopsy findings with the family. The investigative staff is available to assist whenever possible. Your family physician, clergy, or funeral director may be able to answer many questions for you.
3159 Eden Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45219
PH: (513) 946-8700
FX: (513) 946-8730
Lab PH: (513) 946-8750
Lab FX: (513) 946-8772
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