Information for Families
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office seeks to offer compassion and understanding for family members at the time of their loss while fulfilling state laws regarding the investigation of deaths. The following information is provided for family members so that they may understand the death investigation process.
Who will conduct the investigation for the Medical Examiner?
An investigator working in the Medical Examiner’s Office. These investigators staff the office 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Investigators will gather information on the deceased for the Medical Examiner and his assistants to review.
Are autopsies always performed?
No. The purpose of the Medical Examiner’s Office is to review all reportable deaths, including the circumstances of the death as well as any available medical history. In many cases an autopsy is not required. In some cases an autopsy may be necessary when it would serve the public interest and allow for a thorough investigation of the subject’s death.
Where are autopsies performed?
All autopsies are performed at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office, located at 300 East University Avenue, Saint Paul. The office location is adjacent to the Regions Hospital complex in downtown Saint Paul.
Who will perform the autopsy?
All autopsies are performed by forensic pathologists working within the medical examiner’s office. All of the pathologists have been trained in forensic pathology and have extensive experience in death investigation.
Is there a fee for the autopsy?
No. Families do not pay for the cost of exams performed by the Medical Examiner's Office.
When will an autopsy be performed?
In most cases, on the same day the subject’s death is reported. This may be prolonged in cases requiring time for transport of the deceased to the office. Every effort is made to complete the examination within 24 hours of the subject’s reported death.
How do family members request an autopsy report?
Legally entitled family members may contact the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office by phone (651-266-1700) to request a copy of the final autopsy protocol, which will be mailed to you. A fee of $25 plus sales taxes is required. Please contact 651-266-1700 to request a copy and receive the final fee amount.
Can tissue donation occur?
Yes. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office has partnered with Minnesota Lions Eye Bank and LifeSource for tissue donation. Every effort is made to accommodate the wishes of the deceased and family members.
Can I object to an autopsy?
Yes. If you have questions regarding why an autopsy should be performed, or if you have specific objections based on your religious beliefs, please contact the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office at 651-266-1700 and ask to speak with an investigator. While every effort is made to accommodate a family’s wishes, the final decision will depend on the legal duties of the office and the details of the death that is being investigated.
How long do I have to wait for the results of the autopsy?
Final autopsy reports are generally completed within six to eight weeks from the date of autopsy. In some cases, this may take longer if further laboratory testing is required. Legally entitled family members may contact the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office and request a copy of the final autopsy protocol, which will be mailed to you. A fee of $25 plus sales taxes is required. Please contact 651-266-1700 to request a copy and receive the final fee amount.
How do I obtain a death certificate?
Death certificates are usually provided through the funeral home you have chosen. You can also go to your local government center and complete an application.
What if I have other questions?
Call the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office at 651-266-1700 and ask to speak to an investigator.