2006 Code of Virginia § 32.1-283 - Investigation of deaths; obtaining consent to removal of organs, etc.; fees

32.1-283. Investigation of deaths; obtaining consent to removal of organs,etc.; fees.

A. Upon the death of any person from trauma, injury, violence, poisoning,accident, suicide or homicide, or suddenly when in apparent good health, orwhen unattended by a physician, or in jail, prison, other correctionalinstitution or in police custody, or who is a patient or resident of a statemental health or mental retardation facility, or suddenly as an apparentresult of fire, or in any suspicious, unusual or unnatural manner, or thesudden death of any infant less than eighteen months of age whose death issuspected to be attributable to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), themedical examiner of the county or city in which death occurs shall benotified by the physician in attendance, hospital, law-enforcement officer,funeral director or any other person having knowledge of such death. Goodfaith efforts shall be made by such person or institution having custody ofthe dead body to identify the next of kin of the decedent, and such identity,if determined, shall be provided to the Chief Medical Examiner upon transferof the dead body. After identification of the next of kin, the person orinstitution, or agent of such person or institution, having custody of thedead body shall attempt to obtain consent for removal of the pituitary orother organs, glands, eyes or tissues for use in transplants or therapy.

B. Upon being notified of a death as provided in subsection A, the medicalexaminer shall take charge of the dead body, make an investigation into thecause and manner of death, reduce his findings to writing, and promptly makea full report to the Chief Medical Examiner. In order to facilitate hisinvestigation, the medical examiner is authorized to inspect and copy thepertinent medical records of the decedent whose death he is investigating.Full directions as to the nature, character and extent of the investigationto be made in such cases shall be furnished each medical examiner by theChief Medical Examiner, together with appropriate forms for the requiredreports and instructions for their use. The facilities and personnel underthe Chief Medical Examiner shall be made available to medical examiners insuch investigations.

C. A copy of each report pursuant to this section shall be delivered to theappropriate attorney for the Commonwealth and to the appropriatelaw-enforcement agency investigating the death. A copy of any such reportregarding the death of a victim of a traffic accident shall be furnished uponrequest to the State Police and the Highway Safety Commission. In addition, acopy of any autopsy report concerning a patient or resident of a state mentalhealth or mental retardation facility shall be delivered to the Commissionerof Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services and to theInspector General for Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance AbuseServices.

D. For each investigation under this article, including the making of therequired reports, the medical examiner shall receive a fee established by theBoard within the limitations of appropriations for the purpose. Such feeshall be paid by the Commonwealth, if the deceased is not a legal resident ofthe county or city in which his death occurred. In the event the deceased isa legal resident of the county or city in which his death occurred, suchcounty or city shall be responsible for the fee; however, the Commonwealthshall reimburse such county or city to the extent such fee exceeds $20. Ifthe deceased is a patient or resident of a state mental health or mentalretardation facility, the fee shall be paid by the Department of MentalHealth, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services.

E. Nothing herein shall be construed to interfere with the autopsy procedureor with the routine obtaining of consent for removal of organs as conductedby surgical teams or others.

(Code 1950, 32-31.17, 32-31.18, 32-31.20; 1950, p. 659; 1952, cc. 318,705; 1960, c. 366; 1962, c. 366; 1968, c. 431; 1972, cc. 556, 741; 1974, c.443; 1975, c. 475; 1978, c. 175; 1979, c. 711; 1981, c. 388; 1985, c. 228;1993, c. 965; 2002, c. 203; 2003, c. 368.)

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