Our Michigan medical malpractice lawyers represent families of patients who died to due medical errors and medical mistakes in hospitals throughout the State of Michigan. Depending on the suspected cause of death, many times the hospital will perform an autopsy of the patient or refer the matter over to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy. The purpose is to determine the most likely cause of death, the major contributing factors to the death, and whether it was a natural or accidental death.
When family members believe that a medical mistake was a cause of the patient’s death, it can be wise to request an autopsy with a private pathologist, coroner, or medical examiner. This is true for several reasons. First, if the patient died due to medical negligence or a hospital mistake, there is always the suspicion that the hospital doctor performing the autopsy will not point any blame at the same hospital. Essentially, there is always a concern of a “cover up” to prevent the family from knowing the real truth behind the cause of death.
Second, a county medical examiner typically only reports the findings of the autopsy and determines whether the cause of death was natural or accidental. The county medical examiner is not interested in determining whether there were any medical errors or mistakes that caused the death. For example, a county medical examiner may list the cause of death as “cardiovascular disease” but not indicate that this heart attack could have been prevented had earlier medical treatment been provided.
Third, a private autopsy can often assist a medical malpractice lawyer in the pursuit of a lawsuit against the hospital. In every medical malpractice lawsuit, your lawyer will have to prove not only that the hospital committed malpractice but also that it was a cause of the death of the patient. Without a private, independent autopsy, this can be difficult to prove if there was no autopsy or if the autopsy was performed by the hospital or county medical examiner.
Ultimately, the family of the patient must make this tough decision and many people have religious and moral views about autopsies. If your family member died and you believe that a hospital or doctor committed medical malpractice which caused the death, you should contact our medical malpractice lawyers immediately to discuss whether a private autopsy is necessary should your family decide to pursue a lawsuit. Call us now at (800) 606-1717 and we will answer all of your questions.