An autopsy is only ordered by this office when it is vital in the determination of cause and manner of death. When ordered by the Bradford County Coroner's Office there will be no expense to the family. Our autopsies are performed by a Board Certified Forensic Pathologist. The Bradford County Coroner's Office maintains complete records on every case we have investigated. As a family member you are entitled to view these documents. To view the documents simply contact our Office Monday - Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to make an appointment to view this case file. We will provide a Deputy Coroner to review with you the report and answer all of your questions pertaining to this case.
What is an Autopsy / Post Mortem Examination
By definition an autopsy is the inspection and dissection of a body after death, as for determination of the cause of death. Simply put, an autopsy is a thorough internal and external examination performed by a forensic pathologist to discover and document injuries, diseases and even normal conditions of the body. This is performed visually, microscopically, and studies of the blood and other bodily fluids and contents.
Does the Coroner Need Permission for an Autopsy
The Coroner does not need permission for an autopsy to be performed. However, the Coroner or Deputy will attempt to comply with the wishes of the next-of-kin when this does not interfere with the duties set forth by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Will an Autopsy Disfigure the Body
Generally speaking an autopsy will not disfigure the body. Incisions made are in areas easily covered by clothing or behind the head. Our staff has worked with local funeral directors for years in an effort to preserve the body's appearance for viewing.
How Long Will It Take to Get the Autopsy Results Back
Generally it will take 4-6 weeks for our office to receive an official report back from the forensic pathologist. This can vary from pathologist to pathologist. Other pertinent testing results may also slow down the report such as forensic toxicology and/or positive identification.
Cause of Death
Cause of death is the etiologically specific disease or injury which initiated a sequence of events responsible for the death of that individual. The death can be instantaneous or over days, weeks, months or even years. Example, if someone overdoses on drugs and is confined to a bed on a ventilator and subsequently acquires pneumonia and dies, the cause of death would be pneumonia secondary to a drug overdose.
Manner of Death
The manner of death is the circumstance that led to the cause of death. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognizes five manners of death. They are Homicide, Suicide, Accident, Natural, and Undetermined. Only a thorough Medicolegal Death Investigation can accurately establish manner of death. It is very unlikely that an autopsy alone will determine the manner of death.
"NEXT OF KIN"
The hierarchy is described as follows: "SPOUSE" is a husband or wife who legally married, separated but, not divorced. "CHILDREN" is a child who is 18 years of age or older. "PARENTS" the legal parent's or parent of the deceased. "SIBLINGS" the legal brother's or sister's of the deceased. Remains of the deceased will only be released to a Certified Funeral Director. It is important for the Next of Kin to select a Funeral Director as soon as possible and notify this office of the selection.
When Will a Body Be Released
Remains of the deceased will only be released at such a time that there is no longer a need for the remains to be examined by the Coroner or Deputy and his or her outside resources. Once available for release, human remains will only be released to a Certified Funeral Director. It is important for the Next of Kin to select a Funeral Director as soon as possible and notify the Bradford County Coroner's Office of your selection.
Upon completion of the investigation the Coroner or Deputy will complete a Death Certificate and issue the certificate to a funeral home of your choice. In some instances a "PENDING" Death Certificate may be issued to the funeral home while our office is awaiting final test results or when a manner has not yet been determined.
How to get copies of the Death Certificate
Certified copies of the death certificate are only available from funeral home you selected during the month of death. After this period, copies may be purchased from the Pennsylvania Department of Vital Records by calling 724-656-3100.
A positive identification by a family member is not always required. If a positive identification is required you will be contacted by the Bradford County Coroner's Office or Police. If you are a Bradford County resident you will be notified in person.
The Bradford County Coroner's Office makes it a priority to preserve the personal property of any deceased. It is our policy to keep the personal effects with the decedent. All property is itemized on a Personal Effects Form. These personal effects can be received at our office located at 129 Canton Street, Troy, Pa. 16947 with proper identification. Occasionally, the personal effects are released with the decedent to the funeral home that you have chosen. If this is the case they will have a copy of our Personal Effects Form with the itemized effects documented.
When faced with the death of a loved one it can be extremely devastating. Throughout this difficult time, many people find comfort in knowing that others can be helped through Organ and Tissue donation. At the time of your loved one"s death, qualified medical personnel will review your loved one's medical and social history to determine if any donation options exist. When there are opportunities for anatomical donations, a representative from the Organ and Tissue organization will contact you to discuss the details. Donation will only occur after obtaining authorization from the Next of Kin and the Coroner's Office.
If you, or your representative, feel it necessary to have copies of our reports, copies will be made of the report, as permitted by law, providing you pay the State mandated fees. In the event of an active investigation there may be times when the report cannot be released immediately. In some rare instances the District Attorney may petition the court to seal the records of the Coroners investigation.
"SCIENTIFIC OR ANATOMICAL DONATIONS"
Scientific or Anatomical donations are permitted in this Commonwealth. Arrangements that have been made in ADVANCE will be honored by this office unless a post-mortem examination must be conducted. All efforts will be made to honor the last requests of any individual however, if a suspicious circumstance exist, such as a victim of homicide and/or questionable suicide may preclude this type of donation.
the death certificate may initially state the Cause of Death and manner of death as PENDING. This simply refers that the Cause and Manner of death are still under investigation. Pending cases may be cleared quickly in as little as a few days or may remain pending for years of continued investigation. You will be contacted as soon as the investigation results are complete. For this reason, if you move or change you phone number, it is imperative that you inform this office.