Religion and Suspicious Death

  1. Hi, all!

    I'm looking for some clarification here. I'm currently studying for MDI certification and I've hit a small wrinkle in my understanding of jurisdiction here and certain legalities regarding family religious requests vs. an autopsy dictated by a suspicious death.

    My study material indicates that a pathologist must be alerted to religious requests from a decedent's family prior to performing an autopsy.


    If a decedent suspiciously dies, isn't the decedent's body under the jurisdiction of the coroner/ME?

    Why would the family have any legal rights over the decedent's investigation in this scenario?
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    About TheBlackDogWaits, ASN, RN

    Joined: Sep '12; Posts: 209; Likes: 320
    from US
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  3. by   offlabel
    A suspicious death doesn't invalidate religious beliefs of the family and decedent. If there are considerations in care for the dead that a particular faith tradition holds, why wouldn't the ME's office do everything in their power to observe them as long as they didn't interfere with the formal investigation? While not all traditions in the care of the dead would be practical (I would assume), doing everything possible out of compassion for a grieving family would be most compassionate and fitting.

    Being notified of beliefs and traditions doesn't change authoritative jurisdiction.
  4. by   *LadyJane*
    Many orthodox religions believe that the body must be complete for the resurrection. This is why you see orthodox jews mopping up blood at scenes where they have been attacked in Israel. Those blood soaked handkerchiefs will be buried with the dead. So in that case, all body parts must be returned with the body after the autopsy is done, so it can be buried all together. (and not retained in the pathology office, then burned with medical waste.)