We understand your need to comprehend what has happened to your loved one and our Medical Examiners will provide the most accurate explanation in their autopsy report. Due to a number of extenuating factors, the final report may take three to six months to be completed. Feel free to call our office at 865-215-8000 to check on the report status during our business hours: Monday thru Friday, 8am-4:30pm. Our compassionate staff will be happy to assist you.
Once the final report is complete, our office staff will walk you through the process of obtaining the final report. This only applies for deaths occurring in Knox and Anderson Counties at our office. For all other county requests, please contact your local county medical examiner’s office. You can find that information at: https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/oscme/county-medical-examiner.html.
FOR THE FAMILIES
If your loved one has been taken to the Knox County Regional Forensic Center, an examination will be performed by one of our five Medical Examiners to determine if an autopsy is necessary.
Please make note of the following information:
- The RFC cannot permit viewing of decedents at the facility.
- If your loved one becomes a Medical Examiner case, the Medical Examiner will sign the death certificate.
- Please make arrangements with a funeral home or crematorium of your choice or provide alternative instructions for your loved one’s burial.
- The funeral home/crematorium will make arrangements with the RFC to pick up your family member once RFC has completed their examination.
- Decedent personal belongings will go with the decedent to the funeral home or crematorium unless it is involved in an investigation.
- A copy of the autopsy report will be available in approximately three to six months.
- A death certificate will be provided from the funeral home or crematorium
THE FOLLOWING MAY ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE ABOUT “WHY” THE FORENSIC CENTER IS INVOLVED IN A DEATH…
“Death under suspicious, unusual or unnatural circumstances,” Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 38-7-108(a)(1) “Any physician, undertaker, law enforcement officer, or other person having knowledge of the death of any person from violence or trauma of any type, suddenly when in apparent health, sudden unexpected death of infants and children, deaths of prisoners or persons in state custody, deaths on the job or related to employment, deaths believed to represent a threat to public health, deaths where neglect or abuse of extended care residents are suspected or confirmed, deaths where the identity of the person is unknown or unclear, deaths in any suspicious/unusual/unnatural manner, found dead, or where the body is to be cremated, shall immediately notify the county medical examiner or the district attorney general, the local police or the county sheriff, who in turn shall notify the county medical examiner The notification shall be directed to the county medical examiner in the county in which the death occurred.”
In the state of TN, there is no law stating that a funeral home must be involved in your loved ones burial. However, please check your local city/county guidelines for alternative ways of burial. There is also no law for embalming a body unless you are transporting out of state and funeral homes have the right to their own policies and procedures for viewing. If you are going to be transporting your loved ones across state lines, then you will need a transit permit. TN does not require a permit if you are transporting from one county to another. It is important to note that if you are requesting that your loved one be cremated, then according to TN law, the county medical examiner MUST be notified of any and all cremations. The following site gives a more in depth explanation of burial requirements in the state of TN. Please note: This handbook is not just for funeral directors, but for anyone with a burial question:
https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/commerce/documents/regboards/funeral/posts/ Funeral Directors Handbook 2012.pdf.
You may want to donate your loved one’s body for education or research. Our office staff can help you navigate those decisions as well. Call 865-215-8000 during our normal business hours and we can assist you.
Coping with Grief After a Disaster or Traumatic Event
Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood
National Advocacy and Family Support Programs
Katerpillar Kids Camp (Grief Camp for Kids Grades 1-12)
Bereavement Support Services in Tennessee
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
McNabb Life After Loss Support Group
MOMS of Knoxville (Mothers of Missions Survivors)
The Regional Forensic Center does not provide the original or copies of death certificates. Death certificates should come from the funeral home/crematorium, or you can obtain copies from the two following other agencies:Knox County Health Department Vital Records
140 Dameron Avenue
First Floor (behind security/information desk)
Knoxville, Tennessee 37917
Telephone: (865) 215-5100
Fax: (865) 215-5106
TDD: (865) 215-5001
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday thru Friday
Tennessee Vital Records
Central Services Building
421 5th Avenue North
Nashville, Tennessee 37247
Phone (615) 741-1763