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Question
Posted by: Zoe | 2010/05/04

Autopsies'' law requirement for the elderly?

My father who was due for a pace maker operation died at home, at the age of 85. He simply slumped over and died on the couch while having coffee and cake. Our GP gave us a death certificate but at the funeral parlour we were told it was compulsory to pay an extra R1500.00 for an autopsy as my dad had passed away at home.
Last week an elderly neighbour of mine died in similar circumstances to my late father but her daughter tells me that no autopsy was performed on her mother. (They did use a funeral home on the other side of town...)
Could you clarify for me just what *does* the law in SA say? If an elderly person dies at home, do they really need an autopsy or are some of the funeral homes simply scamming people to pocket more money?
Thanking you kindly for your response.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberDoc

Hallo Zoe
If the doctor can't with 100% certainty say that the person died of "natural causes", an autopsy must be done. For instance if a person has terminal cancer at home and then dies, the treating doctor would "expect" the person to die of the disease and will probably give a certificate stating the cause of death as natural, but if the person was fairly healthy and then suddenly dies, an autopsy is often requested if the doctor is not sure of the cause of death. In your dad's case, the doctor could probably not say exactly what caused your dad's death and therefor an autopsy was requested.
Dr Bets

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Our users say:
Posted by: Cyberdoc | 2010/05/04

Hallo Zoe
If the doctor can't with 100% certainty say that the person died of "natural causes", an autopsy must be done. For instance if a person has terminal cancer at home and then dies, the treating doctor would "expect" the person to die of the disease and will probably give a certificate stating the cause of death as natural, but if the person was fairly healthy and then suddenly dies, an autopsy is often requested if the doctor is not sure of the cause of death. In your dad's case, the doctor could probably not say exactly what caused your dad's death and therefor an autopsy was requested.
Dr Bets

Reply to Cyberdoc

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