An autopsy is seldom performed when death occurs in a hospital or under hospice care when the illness is expected to be terminal. Autopsies may be requested by the attending physician in order to better understand the effects of a certain disease on the body.

In the event of a death by an unknown cause, a coroner may order an autopsy for the purpose of determining the cause of death and gathering and documenting evidence that may be found on the body. In most cases there is a specific time frame in which the autopsy must be conducted and the remains returned to the family. The anguish this causes the family is understood and authorities generally do everything possible to make it easier for the family to schedule services.

For the funeral service practitioner, this means that the embalming process evolves from a single injection procedure to a situation where organs must be treated individually. This is the reason for an increase in cost of the embalming procedure.

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