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Department Info

Information for Families

Medical Examiner
Dennis J. Chute, M.D. Chief Medical Examiner

Viewing Policy
The Office is open to the public during regular business hours only. Families are welcome to come to DCME to identify the deceased, obtain autopsy reports, or speak to an investigator or medical examiner. Since the Office is not a 24/7 facility, we recommend that you call ahead to make an appointment, to be sure that someone can be there to assist you. Please call (845) 486-3414 Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM. After hours and on week-ends, please call the ME Hotline at (845) 431-9177. There is parking available in front of the building, and there is a bus stop on Washington Street across from the driveway.



Autopsy Policy
By statute, the Medical Examiner has the authority to perform an autopsy and to decide whether an autopsy is necessary to determine cause and manner of death. Family permission is not required. There is no cost to the family. A medicolegal autopsy is mandatory in all cases in which death is due to criminal violence, criminal neglect or an unlawful act, when a death occurs under suspicious circumstances, and when there is a public health concern. Family objections to autopsy for religious or personal reasons will be respected whenever possible. Families should notify the medical examiner when there is an objection to autopsy. Family requests for an autopsy when the medical examiner has declined jurisdiction will be considered on a case by case basis.


Death Certificates
Once the autopsy is completed, the funeral director chosen by the family will claim the remains at the medical examiner’s office and file the death certificate with the clerk or registrar of the jurisdiction where the death occurred. Certified copies of the death certificate will be given to the next of kin by the funeral director. The medical examiner does not give out death certificates. The time of death recorded on the death certificate is the time the deceased is pronounced dead, and may not be the actual time of death.


Cause of Death "Pending"
In some cases additional studies may be necessary to establish the proximate cause of death once the autopsy is done. A “Pending” death certificate will be issued. This death certificate will enable the funeral home to claim and dispose of the remains according to the wishes of the next of kin, but may not satisfy the requirements of insurance companies. Once all laboratory and additional studies are completed, a finalized autopsy report is generated, and a “corrected death certificate” is filed with the County Clerk or Registrar in which the deceased was pronounced. The next of kin can obtain copies of the corrected death certificate directly from the clerk/registrar, or though the funeral director.


Autopsy Reports
Autopsy reports are available on request to the legal next of kin, and to law enforcement and State investigative agencies when appropriate. It takes generally 4 to 6 weeks to finalize an autopsy report. When an autopsy report has been finalized, DCME will contact the next of kin and explain how to obtain a copy of a corrected death certificate and finalized autopsy report. The autopsy report is available to the next of kin at no fee. There is a $50 fee for records requested by attorneys and insurance agencies on behalf of the next of kin. Records are not sent to physicians or hospitals. 


A. K. Vaidian, MD, MPH,Commissioner of Behavioral & Community Health A. K. Vaidian, MD, MPH
Commissioner of Behavioral & Community Health
Dutchess County Seal