New York City Personal Injury Law Blog
Death Due to Natural Causes in the Autopsy Report
Posted on May 11, 2015 in Wrongful Death
The autopsy report says death due to natural causes, but is it really what it means?
Importance of an Autopsy Report in a Wrongful Death Case
In a wrongful death case, it is essential to attain the autopsy report because it helps determine whether there was wrongdoing that caused or contributed to the death of your loved one. A pathologist is a doctor who specializes in evaluating people who have died, and he is the doctor who will perform the autopsy. Pathologists will conduct a thorough internal examination to determine the cause of death. Many times the language they use in their reports will be ambiguous, and they do that for a number of reasons.
There is a prominent author named Patricia Cornwell who created a character named Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Scarpetta is a fictional medical examiner (ME) or pathologist if you ever want to learn about what this person does in more detail and be entertained simultaneously.
Death Due to Natural Causes can Mean Many Things
Therefore, when the pathologist writes down, death due to natural causes, it may not be that. Here is the reason why. When a person dies, the doctors are going to put down that the heart stopped, which means there was a cardiac arrest. Alternatively, they might put down that the lungs stopped, which means there was cardiopulmonary arrest. However, the real question is why those major organs stopped working properly.
Was it because of trauma, was it because of an accident, or was it because of a massive infection that was not diagnosed? What were the precise reasons for why those critical organs actually stopped? To understand that, ―you have to evaluate the entire autopsy report―you have to review all the medical reports to determine why your loved one died. Based on these events, when the pathologist automatically puts down, death due to natural causes, it may not be the true reason why the person died.
Protecting their Own
The next reason why a doctor may not accurately put down in clear phrases that another person could have caused this person’s death is because typically one doctor does not like to point fingers at another doctor. Especially, when the death has occurred in the same hospital where the autopsy is being performed.
For instance, the death occurred in a particular hospital and they perform the autopsy in the same hospital. So what is the likelihood of the doctor who performs the autopsy actually pointing their fingers at another doctor or doctors in the same hospital? This may be one of the reasons why the language in the autopsy report does not clearly state that the person’s death was due to improper medical care that they received in the same hospital.
An Independent Medical Review
Therefore, if you feel, your loved one has died due to some wrongdoing of the hospital or doctor; you need not give up your wrongful death case just because the autopsy report says death due to natural causes. Of course, this will be a setback, but you can hire a medical expert who can evaluate the autopsy report as a whole, and also look into the medical records of your loved one to figure out the actual cause of death.