Frequently Asked Questions
How long does an autopsy take and will it affect funeral arrangements?
An autopsy usually takes 2-4 hours and should not effect the family's plans for a viewing or the funeral arrangements. OCME and funeral directors work closely to accommodate families' needs. In more than 95 percent of cases, bodies are released by OCME within 24 hours.
What is a pending case?
When the cause and manner of death are not immediately determined at autopsy, the case is marked "pending." Cases are often pending because additional laboratory tests, review of medical records or other investigatory work are needed to establish the cause of death.
Families can proceed with funeral arrangements while the case is pending
As soon as the medical examiner determined the cause of death, the case is unpended. OCME sends a letter to the Division of Vital Records with the cause and manner of death. The funeral home is then notified so they can obtain the death certificate for the family.
How do I obtain a copy of an autopsy report?
Under Maryland law, autopsy reports are public records. To get a copy of an autopsy report and toxicology results (if any), the fee for first-degree family members is $30 and $120 for all others. Alternatively, a report may be read in person at OCME at no cost.
To request a copy, send a letter with the name of the decedent, your relationship to the decedent, the decedent’s date of death, and where you would like to receive the report to:
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
Attention: Information Desk
900 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21223
Requests for other information or material shall be accompanied by a court order or subpoena unless the Custodian of Records determines compelling circumstances exist warranting the release of materials. If releasable, the contents of the file will be copied at a cost.
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