Here are answers to questions frequently asked by next-of-kin of the deceased.

Do I need to come to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for identification?


Typically, identification is made at the place of death by a friend or family member or by comparison with a photo-identification. Identification of a person not visually identifiable is achieved through dental examination, x-rays, or other forensic techniques. In some instances, identification is established using facts gathered by the assistant medical examiner together with individual, unique characteristics of the deceased (scars, tattoos, etc.).

Does the Medical Examiner contact families after an autopsy is completed?

No, information is only provided upon direct request from the legal next-of-kin.

What is a medicolegal autopsy?

A medicolegal autopsy is the external and internal examination of the body after death using surgical techniques performed by a forensic pathologist (medical examiner) who is specially trained to investigate deaths to determine the cause and manner of death.

What is an inspection?

An inspection is the external examination of the body after death performed by a forensic pathologist, no internal examination or surgical techniques are performed.

How long does it take for an autopsy or inspection report to be completed?

Final Reports of Autopsy can take weeks to several months to prepare due to the detailed studies that may be performed during the autopsy procedure.

The medical examiner may take biological samples such as blood, tissue, organs, and/or other materials to study further in an effort to learn the cause and manner of death.

Toxicology testing on some of these samples may be performed if the medical examiner believes that the results may directly affect the determination of cause or manner of death.

These tests will not delay the release of the body to the next-of-kin. However, the results of such testing may take several weeks.

Where is the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner located?

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is located on Baird 1 at the University of Vermont Medical Center, the same level as the Emergency Department.

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