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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a forensic pathologist?

A forensic pathologist is a pathologist with special training and experience in forensic pathology who is actively engaged in medicolegal autopsies and death investigations. Forensic pathologists shall be board-certified by the American Board of Pathology or American Osteopathic Board of Pathology after appropriate training and passing a rigorous examination, or a non-USA based pathologist with equivalent certification. The practicing forensic pathologist is licensed in one or more states; he/she is skilled in conducting death investigations, interpreting injuries in both fatal and non-fatal cases, performing medico-legal examinations, determining disease/injury causation to an appropriate degree of medical certainty and determining cause and manner of death.

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Does Horizon Forensics utilize board certified pathologists?

Yes. Dr. Sandomirsky is board certified by the American Board of Pathology in anatomic, clinical, and forensic pathology.

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What is an autopsy?

The word autopsy means "to see for oneself" and is also refereed to as postmortem examination. It is an external and internal examination of the body after death using review of medical records, surgical techniques, microscopy, and laboratory analysis (toxicology, microbiology testing, etc). Each case is unique and the pathologist determines what is necessary to determine the cause of death. It is performed by a pathologist, a medical doctor specially trained for the procedure who is able to recognize the effects of disease on the body.

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What will the results of the autopsy tell me?

You are able to gain significant information about your loved one from an autopsy examination. The primary goal of any autopsy is to determine the cause of death, if possible. An autopsy may also reveal diseases that tend to occur in families and we will discuss those implications if applicable. Follow up with primary care clinician may be warranted to prevent complications and/ or death from very common diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

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What is the difference between a private autopsy and medical examiner autopsy?

A private autopsy may be requested after the medical examiner and/ or coroner has released the body from their jurisdiction. Horizon Forensics cannot influence those decisions but is available for consultation. A permission to perform a private autopsy is necessary from the appropriate next of kin (see Forms page). There is also a fee associated with a private autopsy (see Rates page). The primary goal of any autopsy is to determine the cause of death, if possible.

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Who can request an autopsy?

With proper authorization, appropriate next of kin and/ or durable power of attorney with after death privileges of the deceased may ask for a private autopsy. In some cases, autopsies may be under the jurisdiction of the local medical examiner and/or coroner and may be required by law. Those cases are not eligible for private autopsies until medical examiner and/ or coroner has made an initial evaluation.

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How do I request an autopsy?

If you wish to schedule a private autopsy, please review both our rates and contact us by e-mailing dr_s@horizonforensics.com. It will be necessary for you to complete necessary authorization forms which are located on the "Forms" link above.

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Does insurance pay for an autopsy?

No. Please see our Rates page for fees.

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What is the cost of an autopsy examination?

The cost associated with a specific autopsy examination depends on a number of factors. If an autopsy has already been performed on the deceased or an exhumation is necessary, additional fees may apply. Please see our Rates page for fees.

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