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There are a number of reasons autopsies are performed.
However, the basic reason is to determine the cause and manner of death when it is not known, also to gather evidence for presentation in a court of law.
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The coroner has jurisdiction over all deaths that occur in their county under suspicious, unusual or unnatural circumstances. The coroner may also be involved in natural deaths that were unattended by a physician.
The coroner will actually investigate approximately 12% of the deaths in their county and 60% of those may be natural deaths.
No. Death certificates are the responsibility of the vital records division of the county health department. The coroner will sign the certificate for coroner cases and then turn the certificate over to the health department for completion.
The certificate is to be filed within 72 hours, but the cause and manner of death can be deferred pending further investigation.
In the state of Indiana the autopsy must be performed by a Board Certified Pathologist.