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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  1. How do I find a funeral home?
  2. Our office cannot recommend a funeral home.
  3. What needs to be done while deceased is at the Medical Examiner's office?
  4. The family needs to select a funeral home or crematory. The funeral director will take care of the remaining details. Advise the office which funeral home or crematory you've selected, so they can be called as soon as the body is ready to be released.
  5. Can the family view the body at the Medical Examiner's office?
  6. Unfortunately, our facilities do not have viewing areas, nor are we staffed to accommodate viewing requests. The deceased may be viewed at the funeral home shortly after arriving there.
  7. What happens to the deceased's personal effects?
  8. Except for evidence, any items transported to the Medical Examiner's Office are released to the funeral home along with the body at the time it is transported.
  9. How is the body transported to the Medical Examiner?
  10. The metro areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa contract with a private contractor. In rural areas, usually local funeral homes transport the bodies. The medical examiner pays directly for this service and it is not the responsibility of the family.
  11. What is an autopsy?
  12. An autopsy is an intricate post-mortem medical procedure often requiring complex laboratory tests. It includes examination of all major organs to document injury and/or disease.
  13. Is an autopsy always necessary?
  14. An autopsy is not normally required when the death is known to be the result of natural causes, adequate medical history exists and there are no signs of foul play. The Medical Examiner usually investigates these deaths because the attending physician is not available to sign the death certificate. Autopsies are generally performed in only about 35-40% of the cases investigated.
  15. Why is it necessary to investigate the expected death of someone who died under the care of a doctor in the hospital or other health care facility?
  16. Because there is often a delay, sometimes measured in years, between injury and death, it is easy to overlook an accident or other trauma which caused the condition for which the decedent was being treated when death occurred. For example, an individual who fell, broke a hip, developed pneumonia and died would require a Medical Examiner investigation because the underlying cause of the pneumonia was a fall - an accidental event. Sometimes there has not been enough time for the doctors to have diagnosed the cause of a coma or possible infectious disease.
  17. If the cause of death is obvious, such as a traffic accident, why must the Medical Examiner investigate?
  18. What appears to be obvious may not be true. Only a thorough investigation will reveal whether the "obvious" traffic accident was caused by a heart attack, carbon monoxide poisoning or some event other than the apparent impact injuries.
  19. How do I obtain a copy of the Death Certificate?
  20. We issue one death certificate with the date, time, cause and manner of death listed on it. The death certificate accompanies the decedent's body to the funeral home chosen by the family. The funeral director completes his portion of the certificate and submits it to the local registrar. If the cause and manner of death are "pending," the original death certificate filed will state that. As soon as the case is completed, an amended death certificate will be filed. The death certificate is eventually filed with the State Health Department and the funeral director usually provides copies to the family. Additional copies may be obtained by contacting the State Health Department's Vital Records Department in Oklahoma City at 405.271.4040.
  21. How do I obtain a copy of the Medical Examiner's Reports?
  22. Each case has an available "Report of Investigation" prepared by the Medical Examiner. If an autopsy was performed, that report will also be available. There is a $10.00 fee for a non-autopsy case report and $20.00 fee for an autopsy case. Immediate family members will receive a complimentary copy by request. Law enforcement agencies receive complimentary copies as well. Requests must be ordered via written request. Email your request to the records department at ( or by mail to 921 N.E. 23rd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73105. Both offices are open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The investigative division is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  23. What is the cost of the autopsy and who pays for it?
  24. If the autopsy is performed by the Medical Examiner's office, there is no charge to the family. It is absorbed through operations of this agency, funded by tax dollars. The only time a family should pay for an autopsy if they request it and it is performed by a private physician at some other facility.
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