2013 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 17 - Criminal Procedures
SECTION 17-5-530. Duty to notify coroner's or medical examiner's office of certain deaths and stillbirths; inquiry; findings; notification of next-of-kin; consent for certain actions.

SC Code § 17-5-530 (2013) What's This?

(A) If a person dies:

(1) as a result of violence;

(2) as a result of apparent suicide;

(3) when in apparent good health;

(4) when unattended by a physician;

(5) in any suspicious or unusual manner;

(6) while an inmate of a penal or correctional institution;

(7) as a result of stillbirth when unattended by a physician; or

(8) in a health care facility, as defined in Section 44-7-130(10) other than nursing homes, within twenty-four hours of entering a health care facility or within twenty-four hours after having undergone an invasive surgical procedure at the health care facility;

a person having knowledge of the death immediately shall notify the county coroner's or medical examiner's office. This procedure also must be followed upon discovery of anatomical material suspected of being or determined to be a part of a human body.

(B) The coroner or medical examiner shall make an immediate inquiry into the cause and manner of death and shall reduce the findings to writing on forms provided for this purpose. If the inquiry is made by a medical examiner, the medical examiner shall retain one copy of the form and forward one copy to the coroner. In the case of violent death, one copy must be forwarded to the county solicitor of the county in which the death occurred.

(C) The coroner or medical examiner shall notify in writing the deceased person's next-of-kin, if known, that in the course of performing the autopsy, body parts may have been retained for the purpose of investigating the cause and manner of death.

(D) In performing an autopsy or post-mortem examination, no body parts, as defined in Section 44-43-305, removed from the body may be used for any purpose other than to determine the cause or manner of death unless the person authorized to consent, as defined in Section 44-43-315, has given informed consent to the procedure. The person giving the informed consent must be given the opportunity to give informed consent and authorize the procedure on a witnessed, written consent form using language understandable to the average lay person after face-to-face communication with a physician, coroner, or medical examiner about the procedure. If the person authorizing the procedure is unable to consent in person, consent may be given through a recorded telephonic communication.

(E) If the coroner or medical examiner orders an autopsy upon review of a death pursuant to item (8) of subsection (A), the autopsy must not be performed:

(1) at the health care facility where the death occurred;

(2) by a physician who treated the patient; or

(3) by a physician who is employed by the health care facility in which the death occurred;

unless the coroner or medical examiner certifies that no reasonable alternative exists.

HISTORY: 2001 Act No. 73, Section 1; 2010 Act No. 226, Section 3, eff July 1, 2010; 2012 Act No. 128, Section 1, eff March 13, 2012.

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