If you are concerned about the initial forensic autopsy performed on a loved one, it is possible to obtain a second forensic autopsy. A second forensic autopsy is possible for those needing answers to questions that nobody seems to address, but these autopsies are different from the initial ones. Learn why a second forensic autopsy would be limited to a records review.
Why Are Second Autopsies Performed?
Not everyone who dies will receive a forensic autopsy (also known as postmortem examination), especially when the cause of death is clearly known. However, in criminal cases or unnatural deaths, autopsies help investigators by providing answers about the cause and manner of death.
Second autopsies are rare, but they are generally done for two primary reasons, with few exceptions.
Dissatisfaction/Uncertain Diagnosis of First Forensic Autopsy
If the facility performing the first forensic autopsy is believed to have performed an inadequate or inaccurate autopsy, families may want a second opinion on the cause of death and other information about the deceased.
Officials investigating high-profile cases will often withhold information from the public until the forensic autopsy is signed. This process can take months, leaving families with unanswered questions in an already devastating situation. A second autopsy can help answer some of those questions in a private manner.
Why Is a Second Forensic Autopsy Limited to Records Review?
Regardless of the reason for requesting a second forensic autopsy, some things will no longer be available to examine. These may include:
- Physical evidence has been destroyed.
- Organs and tissues have been removed or altered.
- Body fluids and blood are absent.
- The deceased’s body has gone through physical changes since the first forensic autopsy.
This is why a second forensic autopsy is usually limited to records review. However, these records reviews are far more comprehensive than simply looking at the forensic autopsy report of the first postmortem. The forensic pathologist will receive:
- Initial forensic autopsy report
- Medical records
- Photographs of the deceased taken during the initial forensic autopsy
- Investigator notes (if applicable)
- Crime scene photos (if applicable)
- Any pertinent notes or information connected to an unnatural death
The forensic pathologist can often deduce whether the initial forensic autopsy was properly conducted. While these record reviews may provide answers, loved ones should keep in mind the limitations of a second forensic autopsy may not provide the exact answers they are seeking.
Exploring Second Autopsies with Dr. Chundru
Dr. Chundru performs second autopsies in the form of records review, for second opinions, or as an expert witness for criminal or civil court cases. Dr. Chundru will also perform a physical exam of the deceased if the family/attorneys feel the first autopsy was inadequate or if the results of the first autopsy will not be available for a long time. However, it is important to understand that Dr. Chundru cannot complete a report without having all the information from the first report. The viewing of the deceased in a second autopsy is just to get some very general information. The most meaningful information is reviewing everything from the first autopsy in addition to the limited information gained from the viewing of the deceased. Families can also receive a second forensic autopsy that includes a comprehensive report to help ease their minds and provide the answers they need for closure. For more information, schedule a consultation with Dr. Chundru to discuss second autopsies and see if it’s right for you.