Getting Started (for Next-of-Kin-Initiated Autopsies)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION CAN SERVE AS A GUIDE FOR FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES CONSIDERING A POSTMORTEM EXAMINATION. MANY, BUT NOT ALL, AUTOPSIES WILL BEGIN IN THIS FASHION. PLEASE CALL US AT 855.833.9267 TO DISCUSS CASE-SPECIFIC DETAILS TO ENSURE THAT YOU ARE FOLLOWING THE PROPER PROCEDURE FOR YOUR SPECIFIC AUTOPSY REQUEST.

If you have just lost a loved one and are considering a postmortem examination, one of the first things to consider is who is authorized to consent to an autopsy. By Florida statute, only a healthcare surrogate or legal next-of-kin can consent to an autopsy.

Legal next-of-kin is defined as the decedent’s surviving legal spouse. If the decedent was single, divorced or widowed, the next degree of kinship applies, in the following order:

  1. Adult child
  2. Parent
  3. Adult sibling

To begin an autopsy request (for most next-of-kin-initiated autopsies):

When requesting an autopsy, there are many questions about logistics and how our process works. We understand this is a difficult time, and we are available to answer questions on an individual basis.

  • Autopsies are performed at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, which means the decedent will need to be transported to our facility from their current location.
  • Transportation for the decedent can be arranged through the funeral home chosen by the family, or UF Health Autopsy Services can provide transportation through a contracted transport company for an additional fee, which is dependent on mileage.
  • Autopsies can generally only be performed on decedents who have not been embalmed. If you are considering having an autopsy performed, ensure that the funeral home you are working with knows not to embalm the decedent.
  • What type of autopsy is needed to address the families concerns is best discussed on an individual basis by calling 855.833.9267. This number is answered by an answering service after-hours or when our office manager is away. If you call during either of these times, we will reply as soon as possible.
  • When the proper request forms have been completed and received by UF Health Autopsy Services, a staff member will contact the requester and give instructions for how payment for services can be made. Our services utilize the UF Patient Relations Department for processing secure payments.
  • When payment has been received, UF Health Autopsy Services’ staff will immediately coordinate transportation of the decedent and schedule the autopsy.
  • Prior to assuming custody of the decedent from a hospital or institution, the decedent’s family must have made final funeral arrangements.