Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: I'm the Next-of-Kin and I don't know what to do. Where do I
- A: Your first step should probably be to select a funeral home or
- Q: What if we can't afford to pay for a funeral?
- A: Lee County has an Indigent
Burial/Cremation Program you may consider.
- Q: When can I view the body?
- A: At the funeral home. Except for purposes of identifying a
decedent, we strongly discourage viewings at the Medical Examiner
Office. Our cases frequently involve trauma to the body and are in no
condition for viewing. We do not prepare bodies for viewing. That is the job of the funeral home.
- Q: Where are the decedent's personal effects?
- A: If a law enforcement agency is involved in the case they might retain
some personal effects as evidence. Otherwise, we release all personal
effects that arrived with the body to the funeral home or cremation society
the family has selected.
- Q: What about medications that were removed?
- A: Medications are taken into evidence by law enforcement
officers or Medical Examiner personnel and transported with the body to the
Medical Examiner's office. They are inventoried and then destroyed after final
disposition of the case. Medications are not returned to family members. If the
family insists, they will be returned to the prescribing physician who may
represcribe them at his discretion.
- Q: What if we don't want an autopsy performed?
- A: Before consideration is given to deferring the autopsy, it
must be ascertained that the manner of death is clear, that there is no
suspicion of foul play, and that no disservice would be done to the interests of
the public or other persons such as might be the case in certain motor vehicle
cases where the Manner of Death is Homicide or Accident, the Medical
Examiner is required by law to perform an autopsy. In the other cases, the
Medical Examiner may decide an autopsy is necessary to determining the
Manner and Cause of Death. It is the policy of the District 21 Medical Examiner's Office to perform only
complete autopsies. An autopsy will be performed whenever the death is known or
suspected to be of unnatural causes, whether from homicide, suicide, or
accident. All suspected SIDS deaths will be autopsied. Falls resulting in hip
fractures in the elderly are an exception. Such deaths usually do not require
autopsy. Sudden deaths apparently due to natural causes are evaluated on an
- Q: Doesn't performing an autopsy make it impossible for the funeral home
to prepare the body for viewing?
- A: No. Our techniques are unobtrusive. If the body was a
suitable candidate for viewing prior to the autopsy, it will be after the
- Q: Why does it take so long for toxicology tests?
- A: We don't have the facilities to do these tests in-house. Therefore the specimens must be sent to a laboratory, tested, and if the
results are positive and the Medical Examiner needs the results quantified,
additional tests may need to be performed, perhaps by yet another
- Q: What if I don't agree with the Medical Examiner's findings?
- A: Absent new evidence that alters circumstances, the Medical Examiner's
rulings are not subject to appeal or revision. Any concerns should be
addressed to the:
Medical Examiners Commission
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
2331 Phillips Road
P.O. Box 1489
Tallahassee, Florida 32302