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Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Medical Examiner become involved in a death investigation?

The Medical Examiner’s Office may be notified of a death by a law enforcement agency, medical facility, funeral home, vital statistics registrar, or even by family members.

Does every death include an autopsy?

No. A complete autopsy may not be performed if there is adequate medical history, scene findings, and exam findings to establish cause of death. In the case of a suspicious death, an autopsy may be completed for the purpose of documenting and preserving forensic evidence.

When is the autopsy report available?

The autopsy report will be released after the forensic pathologist has received and reviewed all information related to the autopsy and death investigation. This process may take weeks. Under special circumstances, the forensic pathologist may issue a “Pending” death certificate so that the family can proceed with financial/legal matters related to the end of life.

How do I get a copy of the autopsy report?

Autopsy reports are only issued by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office. To get a copy, call the Medical Examiner’s office at 971-673-8200 or make an online request.

How will a death investigation impact funeral arrangements?

In most cases, funeral arrangements will not be impacted by the death investigation.

What happens to personal property of the deceased?

Personal property may be stored or examined by the Medical Examiner’s Office before it is released to the funeral home. The medical examiner does not retain possession of any personal belongings. In some cases, personal property is considered evidence and will be retained by the investigating law enforcement agency.

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