1. Mr Grumpy
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    Mr Grumpy Member

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    how long for autopsy results...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mr Grumpy, Jul 28, 2011.

    Sorry if this is in the wrong thread - Mods feel free to shift it to the correct thread...

    OK - does anyone have any idea how long it takes to get autopsy results back?

    Eg. if a body is found on Monday morning, how long would it take to get the results back to the police? Hours? Days Weeks?
     
  2. Blue_Lotus
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    Blue_Lotus Senior Member

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    that depends on several things, age of the body ( how long it has been there ) for starters, location of the office it has to travel to, ect.

    Usualy you can get the inital report back in about 72 hrs, but you won't get a final report back for 6 weeks or so, sometimes longer just depends. if Bill Gates up and died they would rush the process I die it's gonna take a while ;)
     
  3. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Three to Four days for a rush, but normally a week with everything they need to do.

    Oh but yeah, publicly filed take up to 6 to 8 weeks.

    I interned at a morgue during high school.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no way to tell without knowing where this takes place and what the circumstances are in re the cause of death, the identity of the decedent, and the ability of the me's office to perform the autopsy...

    the bottom line is that you can make it be as short or as long as you need it to be for your story...
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    On TV, it's pretty instantaneous. lol Same day often enough. Not exactly realistic but for a story, only the biggest of nitpickers will likely make too much if the report comes back sooner rather than later. Besides, in a cop story, they're usually friendly with the ME so they get special privileges. xD
     
  6. Mr Grumpy
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    Mr Grumpy Member

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    Cheers all.

    I've decided to move the story on so a week has passed between the death and the autopsy results. It makes sense character-wise and doesn't hinder the story so all is good :)

    Thanks for the replies.

    On another note that Show brings up above, there are certain circumstances that stories don't stick to strict realism in certain scenarios - is this an issue for readers? For example - in my story - if the body was found in the morning and the results came back in the afternoon, would readers find this too unrealistic, it's only cops and people who perform autopsies that would notice this right? I mean stories are littered with scenarios that would never happen in real life - so how far can you stretch the reality of any scenario?
     
  7. NecessaryPain
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    NecessaryPain Member

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    As far as you want it.

    Most people won't know the ins and outs of police procedures. So yes, only a small percentage will pick up on the realisim (or lack-of) in your story.

    Personally, I think you are doing the right thing by moving on a week. Shows like CSI are total, total fabrications of what goes on in real life. CSI-type shows have state of the art or impossible sciences that 'explain' what happened before, during or after the crime. Police and Detectives are shown in the wrong light, usually by breaking or bending all the rules, and the sheer speed of results from both sides is nothing short of impossible.

    Police Departments have budgets, and most Cities simply do not have the time, money or luxeries or obtaining fast results or state of the art equipment. I have read the following book, which I believe would help you when writing:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1582974551/?tag=postedlinks-21

    If you are focusing your story in North America, buy it. It's information will help you regardless.

    Most crime novels don't focus on the realism. They don't need to. But I say write the way you want to write, and keep it authentic whenever you can. If anything, you'll be praised for putting in the research.

    Fast forward time whenever you can if you find that a certain part or chapter is going too slow.
     
  8. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bear in mind, if you are dealing with a moderately sized city with a lot of 'action' in the medical examiner's office, if the cause of death is obvious or readily known (pedestrian struck by oncoming semi; gangland shoot-out; suicide by lead poisoning; etc.) they may not do an autopsy at all. In most city morgues of any size autopsy is done only if there is some question as to COD or if there is a specific request for autopsy (usually something like request from County or State Atty office in criminal prosecutions, and things of that nature.)

    So, as mamma already pointed out, you are pretty much at liberty to manipulate the circumstances to accommodate your needs.
     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Autopsies are done in stages, or at least the results are released that way. Time of death can be done on the scene and more precisely in the morgue a few hours later. Cause of death if its some form of obvious trauma eg shooting etc, will get your a preliminary report in one to four days depending on how busy the morgue is. Drugs testing etc can take weeks, and certain other refined causes such as rare toxins months or more.

    But I would expect the detectives to be working on a homicide within a few hours of finding the body, based largely on the scene examination and the appearance of the body.

    Cheers.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...readers with a modicum of intelligence would, since it's totally unrealistic...

    ...see above... simple common sense [ok, so that's an oxymoron!] is all that's needed for anyone to expect it would have to take more than a few hours for the body to make it from the on-site inspection by detectives to the results of an autopsy...

    ...as far as you can get away with it... which is not very far in realism-based fiction, but can be light years in fantasy or sci-fi...
     
  11. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^^^I guess that says a lot about the average mainstream American who reads the average crime thriller or watches the latest episode of a television procedural. ;)
     
  12. pyrosama
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    pyrosama Member

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    Cause of death can be determined at various levels. If the initial autopsy doesn't produce a cause of death (usually within a day or two) and they have to send the body off for a toxicologist, then it would be 2-3 weeks after that.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It also depends on exactly what tests are required. Different tests take longer to prepare and execute than others, and some may require access to testing resources in short supply for which there is a lengthy waiting queue.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since toxicologists examine the body's fluids and tissues, the whole body would not be 'sent off' to a toxicologist... only fluids and tissues samples taken from the body would be...

    and there's no set period of time for getting results... could be only days, or a couple of weeks, depending on what they're tested for...
     
  15. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Sadly, from personal experience, the above statement was my experience.

    I hope it's ok but below is a link to WebMD regarding the ins and outs of toxicology results:

    http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/alcohol-abuse/features/the-truth-about-toxicology-tests
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm so sorry that your info came from having a personal loss, jeff...

    but that's definitely not the etched in stone process followed in all cases, as your post seemed to be claiming... so i had to point out that, to avoid folks assuming it is...

    love and consoling hugs, maia
     
  17. pyrosama
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    pyrosama Member

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    Very interesting article, thanks for sharing. Also, sorry for your loss.

    My husband was an NCIS agent and he says the stuff on television is so contrived it's not even funny. Probably no different for a lawyer watching L.A. Law. :)
     
  18. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yet that contrived stuff on television gets millions of weekly viewers. The same likely goes for the bestseller crime novelists.
     
  19. pyrosama
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    pyrosama Member

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    Just because it's contrived doesn't mean it isn't entertaining. It's just not for people who've done the work and find it sensationalized. However, in television and in fiction, things have to be sensationalized to keep viewers/readers interested. That's a given.
     
  20. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    That was kind of my point. While a writer wants to keep things interesting, sticking relentlessly to procedure might slow things down to the point where the average reader is likely to be lost. At some point, you might need to decide who you're aiming to please.
     

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