11-597. Autopsies; reports; exemption from liability
A. The county medical examiner or alternate medical examiner shall conduct a death investigation to determine whether or not the public interest requires an external examination, autopsy or other special investigation.
B. An external examination or autopsy is not required for deaths due to natural diseases that occur during surgical or anesthetic procedures unless the medical examiner or alternate medical examiner determines that an external examination or autopsy is necessary.
C. In the determination of the need for an autopsy, the county medical examiner or alternate medical examiner may consider the request for an autopsy made by private persons or public officials. If the county attorney or a superior court judge of the county where the death occurred requests an autopsy, the county medical examiner shall perform the autopsy, or, in the case of an alternate medical examiner, an autopsy shall be performed by a forensic pathologist.
D. A forensic pathologist shall perform an autopsy in cases of sudden and unexplained infant death in accordance with protocols adopted by the director of the department of health services. If the medical examiner or forensic pathologist determines that the infant died of sudden infant death syndrome, the medical examiner or forensic pathologist shall notify the department of health services. The medical examiner or forensic pathologist may retain tissue samples, specimens and other biological materials for diagnostic purposes.
E. If an autopsy is performed, a full record or report of the facts developed by the autopsy in the findings of the person performing the autopsy shall be properly made and filed in the office of the county medical examiner or the board of supervisors. If the person performing the autopsy determines that the report should be forwarded to the county where the death occurred or the county in which any injury contributing to or causing the death was sustained, the report shall be forwarded to the county attorney.
F. A county attorney may request and on request shall receive from the county medical examiner or alternate medical examiner a copy of the report on any autopsy performed.
G. The county medical examiner or alternate medical examiner may perform other tests deemed necessary to determine identity and the cause and manner of death and may retain tissues, specimens and other biological materials for subsequent examination.
H. When a death investigation, including an external examination, autopsy or other tests are performed by the county medical examiner, alternate medical examiner or a forensic pathologist, no cause of action shall lie against the physician or any other person for requesting, performing, participating in or determining the cause and manner of death or otherwise reporting the results from the external examination, death investigation, autopsy or other tests or for retaining specimens, tissues or other biological materials.