Legal Terminology – LPI Word of the Month


The word autopsy is derived from the Ancient Greek word autopsia, which means “to see for oneself.”  It is a surgical procedure consisting of a thorough examination of a decedent by dissection to determine the cause and manner of death.  The examination may be performed to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present for research or educational purposes.  A forensic or coroner’s autopsy is utilized to find the cause and manner of death and in some cases to identify the decedent.  They are generally performed in cases of violent, suspicious or sudden deaths, deaths occurring to one who has not been treated medically or during a surgical procedure.  Medical examiners attempt to determine the time of death, the exact cause of death, and what, if anything, preceded the death, such as a struggle.

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