When is an official autopsy required?


Part of the Independent's latest cover package explores when autopsies by the El Paso County Coroner's Office are required and when they're not. ("Mystery of death," News)

Specifically, this delineation might advance understanding of those requirements, as provided by the Coroner's Office:
The El Paso County Coroner’s Office investigates all sudden, unexpected, and non-natural deaths, the office says in its annual report. While many natural deaths can be certified by the decedent’s physician, about a third of deaths require further investigation to determine cause and manner of death and ensure public health and safety.

Under Colorado law, the coroner must investigate the following types of deaths:
• Sudden, unexpected, or non-natural
• No physician available to certify the death
• Industrial accidents
• Deaths in the custody of law enforcement or in the care of a public institution
• Deaths due to contagious diseases
• All unexplained deaths

State law does not require autopsies in these circumstances:
• Deaths in nursing homes
• Deaths in hospitals, unless requested by the family to address quality of care or legal concerns.
We also had checked in with the county's Department of Human Services regarding reports of elder abuse. Spokesperson Kristina Iodice reports, "Thus far in 2017, about 26 percent of the allegations are self-neglect. Caretaker neglect is at 25 percent, but a caretaker can be someone in a facility or someone in the adult’s home. Exploitation is about 20 percent. Physical and sexual abuse make up about 13 percent of allegations so far in 2017."

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