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Jonathan Rosenfeld

January 29, 2023

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An autopsy is an important tool used in medical malpractice litigation to determine the cause of death. An autopsy technician will examine the organs and tissues of a deceased patient’s body, looking for signs of negligence or mistreatment that may have contributed to the fatality.

This evidence can then be presented in court to establish a causal link between medical errors and wrongful death. Autopsies can determine pre-existing conditions and other relevant factors that played a role in the patient’s death.

Do you need to understand your loved one’s cause of death to file a medical malpractice lawsuit? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can obtain your family member’s medical records from the local medical examiner that performed the procedure or hire an outside firm for a private autopsy.

Contact medical malpractice lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for your free case evaluation.

how is autopsy used in medical malpractice litigation

In the right situation, an autopsy can be helpful in establishing negligence in a medical malpractice case.

What Occurs When the County Medical Examiner Performs an Autopsy

An autopsy can be invaluable for resolving a medical malpractice case, as experts gain insight into the cause and course of a patient’s death. Autopsies can provide critical information about potential medical errors or mistreatment that may have contributed to the fatality.

During the procedure, an autopsy technician examines the body’s organs and tissues, documenting abnormalities or evidence of injury that could suggest negligence or misconduct by a healthcare provider.

Attorneys and expert witnesses can use the evidence during medical malpractice cases to establish causation between wrongful death and medical error.

When Medical Negligence Is Found

Medical negligence is often discovered during an autopsy that can be used to support a medical malpractice claim. During the procedure, an autopsy technician will document any evidence of injury or abnormalities that could suggest that a healthcare provider did not act responsibly in providing care.

Medical negligence may be evident as physical marks or trauma resulting from mistreatment or errors in care. Performing an autopsy to detemine how the patient died could establish causation between medical negligence and wrongful death.

If it is determined that the patient’s cause of death was directly related to a healthcare provider’s mistake, the evidence can be used to determine liability in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Additionally, autopsies can identify any pre-existing conditions or relevant factors that may have contributed to the cause of death.

Medical Examiner Vs. A Hospital Doctor Performing an Autopsy

It is often beneficial to have a medical examiner, rather than a hospital doctor, perform an autopsy after the patient dies while under the hospital’s care.

A medical examiner is an objective third party who can provide an independent review and opinion regarding the cause of death.

An objective view helps ensure that findings of the patient’s death are not biased or influenced by any potential conflict of interest, especially if the hospital committed malpractice while providing medical treatment.

Additionally, a medical examiner has had extensive training in conducting autopsies and can detect signs of negligence as the cause of death not seen by a medical professional without experience.

Common Medical Mistakes Caused by Negligence

Major contributing factors can lead to medical errors in hospital settings. Medical providers may be overworked or lack the necessary training and qualifications to accurately diagnose and treat a patient.

Furthermore, hospital systems are usually complex, making it difficult for medical staff to track all procedures, medications, and treatments.

The ten most common medical mistakes include:

  1. Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
  2. Poor Communication Between Medical Team Members
  3. Prescribing the Wrong Medication or Dosage
  4. Failing to Follow Safety Protocols
  5. Operating on the Wrong Site or Incorrect Procedure Performed
  6. Failure to Obtain Informed Consent
  7. Mixing Up Patient Records
  8. Equipment Malfunctions
  9. Unsanitary Conditions in Hospital Settings
  10. Medical Negligence or Malpractice

Poor communication can lead to incorrect medication dosages or failure to follow safety protocols when administering drugs.

Finally, medical mistakes can happen when the wrong procedure is performed or equipment malfunctions. Without proper maintenance and calibration of machines like CT scanners and X-ray machines, inaccurate results could harm the patient’s health.

In many cases, family members suspect that their loved one’s death results from substandard or unacceptable treatment.

While the local medical examiner’s office might provide the evidence needed to win a medical malpractice death lawsuit, an autopsy report from a private pathologist from further investigation might be necessary to prove what happened.

Why Family Members Choose Not to Have an External Examination or Private Autopsy Performed on a Loved One

A private autopsy performed on a loved one might be overwhelming for a family member to cope with, experiencing the emotional stress from additional laboratory testing and analysis.

Families may feel that such tests are unnecessary and that the hospital’s medical team has examined their loved one sufficiently. They might have religious and moral views and instead accept the findings of the county medical examiner.

Financial considerations may play a role; examinations and autopsies can be expensive and involve administrative processes like procuring permits.

Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Who Reviews Autopsy Reports

Did your loved one likely die from a medical provider or hospital mistake? Do you need to file a medical malpractice death lawsuit to hold the responsible parties accountable?

Our medical malpractice lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you file a wrongful death claim. We can review the autopsy reports from the county medical examiner or set up an external autopsy from a private examiner to ensure compensation for wrongful death.

Call us at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.


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