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MEDICAL AND/OR LEGAL QUESTION: How can a blood relative find…

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MEDICAL AND/OR LEGAL QUESTION: How...
MEDICAL AND/OR LEGAL QUESTION: How can a blood relative find out the specific medical cause of death of a family member beyond "natural causes"? In this case, the police who discovered the body ruled "natural causes" which could have been many different things. We suspect it was heart related based on family history but other conditions had been present including Diabetes, Sarcoidosis, past Hepatitis (cured year before), recent fracture of the femur, multiple prescription drugs, opioid / drug use/abuse, and alcohol. But the specifics as to exact cause of death is desired by surviving relatives. The body was examined at a hospital by some health professional (unknown at present), then cremated in 2 or 3 days with no autopsy performed. Likely a record of death was written which would state cause of death which may be more specific than "natural causes". How soon are such records written, filed, and made available for viewing? Can they be viewed online like other county and government records or are they only viewable via hard copy? Are death records only obtainable by certain members of the legal community or the deceased's family (and how close in relation to the deceased must they be?). This would be for a First Cousin so would I be close enough by blood relationship to be allowed to view the death certificate online or by hard copy through the mail? Are large hospitals where bodies are examined pursuant to an official, medical pronouncement of death allowed to give out details as to exact cause of death to a First Cousin or would some higher legal writ or order be required to get that information? Is it easier to get this information from the hospital where the body was medically examined, from county records, or through some other source? This would be at a hospital or via county records in Cameron County, Texas, for a death that occurred at the deceased's home, in bed alone, and19 days ago.
Submitted: 6 months ago.Category: Cardiology
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1/6/2018
Cardiologist: Dr Stan, Doctor replied 6 months ago
Dr Stan
Dr Stan, Doctor
Category: Cardiology
Satisfied Customers: 3,498
Experience: Physician at Stanley L Simpson, DO
Verified

Hello, this is Dr. Stan, thank you for your question. I am U.S. trained,

Board Certified and I have 30 years of patient experience and I am here to help you today. I'm sorry for your loss.

When "Natural Causes" are stated, the police are saying that there was no evidence of foul play. The only way that the "exact cause of death" can be determined is by performing an autopsy which can be requested by family or the police. If requested by the family, the cost must be born by the family. Autopsies are expensive running in the thousands. Since the body has been cremated, an autopsy is not possible.

When Natural causes are stated, the death certificate will state: "Respiratory failure as a result of heart failure as a result of..."

Again, I am sorry for your loss and I hope I have addressed your concerns.

Thank you for allowing me to provide assistance.

I am available to answer any additional questions you may have.

I hope your medical problem(s) are resolved soon and you feel better. I sincerely ***** ***** I have helped you and that I have earned your 5 star rating today.

Please remember to rate my service by selecting the 5 stars at the top of the screen ( rating me now does not close your question). We can continue here until you are satisfied, simply use the reply box and let me know. Thank you.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Your response that "the death certificate will state: 'Respiratory failure as a result of heart failure as a result of....' " -- suggests that some medical examination was performed (short of an autopsy) that would determine what caused the heart failure. If the body was taken to a hospital, would not some doctor have examined the body to ascertain what caused the heart failure and be able to report those specifics? And when "natural causes" are listed by the police to designate the absence of foul play, does that mean that every death by natural causes resulted from respiratory failure from heart failure from something else? My question also asked regarding best place to get information on exact cause of death (e.g. examining hospital or county records) but you were silent on those questions before requesting a 5 star rating. If you have not the knowledge base to make expert recommendations on those points, then please release this question to another Certified Expert who could make such recommendation / give such advice. (FYI -- From my screen, your record shows only 1 rating to date at 2 out of 5 stars. Under-reporting of ratings number and average ratings for Experts has been a long-term problem with the JustAnswers software / online platform and you should report / consult JA administration if the number of ratings you actually have and your actual average rating is higher than I just reported above.)
Cardiologist: Dr. K., MD replied 6 months ago
Dr. K.
Dr. K., MD
Category: Cardiology
Satisfied Customers: 4,902
Experience: Board certified.
Verified
You cannot get any more information unless an autopsy was performed. An autopsy can be requested by the coroner or by family. Bodies are NOT automatically examined by any dr when transported to a hospital or morgue. If the police thought death was from natural causes, this includes heart attack, heart failure, respiratory failure , etc. i hope this helps.
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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Police are not medical professionals. Your answer suggests that non-medical professionals are empowered to officially pronounce the cause of death as something so vague as to include any and every possible cause of death through bodily means, including medication conflicts and overdosing. Is processing a dead body so casual and non-specific that non-medical people can pronounce the cause of death without any medical oversight, even brief examination or medical opinion, yet ascribing death to something medical, i.e. "natural causes"...? Furthermore, your answer addresses only one aspect of my question and does not speak to the question of getting a death certificate, i.e. where is the easiest place to get this? I was told by the funeral home that provided the ambulance (on call) to take the body to the hospital that on the death certificate, the cause of death is always more specific than "natural causes." Do you corroborate that statement or do death certificates routinely list only "natural causes" as the cause of death and nothing more? How to get more specific information on the cause of death of a relative who was like a lifelong brother to me? I consider this important and not a trivial point to be dismissed with an answer lacking detail and not addressing the entire question.
Customer reply replied 6 months ago
PS -- My screen shows you have only 5 ratings to date with an average rating of 2 (out of a possible 5) stars. If that is NOT your actual number of ratings or your actual average, then do bring this up with Just Answers administration as it is some systemic problem (e.g. software, website, etc.) with how they are representing Experts to customers / subscribers which can have an impact on customer perceptions, ratings, and repeat business for the Experts.
Cardiologist: Dr. K., MD replied 6 months ago
I have many more than 5 ratings.
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