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This entry was published on 2018-02-23
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SECTION 4210
Deceased persons; right to dissect
Public Health (PBH) CHAPTER 45, ARTICLE 42, TITLE 2
§ 4210. Deceased persons; right to dissect. The right to dissect the
body of a deceased person exists in the following cases:

1. In the cases prescribed by special statutes; or,

2. When the dissection is performed by or at the direction of (a) a
coroner who is a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state,
or (b) a coroner's physician, or (c) a medical examiner of a county, or
is performed at the direction jointly of a coroner and coroner's
physician, and is performed in the course of an investigation within the
jurisdiction of the officer performing or directing the dissection, or
is performed upon the written request of a district attorney, or
sheriff, or the chief of a police department of a city or county, or the
superintendent of state police.

The commissioner shall adopt regulations to establish standard autopsy
protocols for any person under the age of one year who dies under
circumstances in which death is not anticipated by medical history or
the cause is unknown. Such regulations and autopsy protocols shall
include but not be limited to (i) requirements for the performance of
such autopsies, subject to the limitations provided for in section
forty-two hundred ten-c of this title, and (ii) delineation of specific,
standardized methods for such autopsies. In developing and implementing
such regulations and protocols, the commissioner shall consult with
health professionals, families and other persons participating in the
implementation of the sudden infant death syndrome program authorized
pursuant to section twenty-five hundred-b of this chapter and at a
minimum shall consult with an epidemiologist, a forensic pathologist, a
pediatric pathologist, a medical examiner, a county coroner and a
pediatrician with expertise in sudden infant death syndrome; or,

2-a. Where a person dies while under care or treatment at a general
hospital (as defined by subdivision ten of section twenty-eight hundred
one of this chapter) or while recovering from such care or treatment,
any autopsy report for such person shall be made available, by the
coroner or medical examiner under whose jurisdiction the autopsy was
performed, in a timely manner, to the hospital, for the purpose of
ongoing performance improvement of such hospital, including for the
purposes of sections twenty-eight hundred five-j and twenty-eight
hundred five-k of this chapter. All such reports in the possession of a
hospital shall be subject to the provisions of section twenty-eight
hundred five-m of this chapter.

3. Whenever and so far as the husband, wife or next of kin of the
deceased, being charged by law with the duty of burial, (a) may
authorize dissection for the sole purpose of ascertaining the cause of
death, or (b) may authorize dissection for any other purpose by written
instrument which shall specify the purpose and extent of the dissection
so authorized, and when a dissection is so authorized pursuant to this
subdivision the person authorizing the dissection also may designate a
physician licensed in any state or country to observe such dissection.
If the deceased has upon his person an identification card indicating
his opposition to the dissection or autopsy of his body no such
dissection or autopsy shall be performed except as required by law; or,

4. Whenever any district attorney in this state, in the discharge of
his official duties, shall deem it necessary, he may exhume, take
possession of, and remove the body of a deceased person, or any portion
thereof, and submit the same to a proper physical or chemical
examination, or analysis, to ascertain the cause of death, and the same
shall be made on the order of any justice of the supreme court of this
state, or the county judge of the county in which such dead body shall
be, which order shall be made on the application of the district
attorney with or without notice to the relatives of the deceased person
or to any person or corporation having the legal charge of such body, as
the court may direct. Said district attorney shall have power to direct
any police officer or peace officer, acting pursuant to his special
duties, of this state, or to employ such person, or persons as he may
deem necessary to assist him in exhuming, removing, obtaining possession
of and examining physically or chemically such dead body or any portion
thereof. The expense therefor shall be a county charge, to be paid by
the county treasurer on the certificate of the district attorney.

5. When an autopsy of the body is conducted of a deceased human who
has epilepsy or a history of seizures it shall include an investigation
and determinations as to whether the deceased suffered a sudden
unexpected death in epilepsy. In the event the deceased did suffer a
sudden, unexpected death in epilepsy, such information shall be noted on
the death certificate and be reported to the North American SUDEP
Registry.