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Frequently Asked Questions

The Honolulu Department of the Medical Examiner extends its deepest sympathy to you during this difficult time.  To assist you, it is our hope that this information will provide you with answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.  We trust that the advice and counseling provided by your funeral director and the information provided on this website will be of help.  However, should you need additional assistance, please contact our office at:  (808) 768-3090.

     Plumeria

Q: WHERE WILL MY RELATIVE/FRIEND BE TAKEN?
A: He/she will be taken to the Medical Examiner's facility located at 835 Iwilei Road, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96817.

Q: IS IT NECESSARY FOR ME TO COME TO THE MEDICAL EXAMINER FACILITY TO IDENTIFY THE BODY?
A: No, in the majority of the cases, visual identification is not required. If visual identification should be necessary, you will be contacted.

Q: IS VIEWING ALLOWED?
A: No, our facility is not designed to handle bereaved relatives.  Arrangements for viewing can be made with the mortuary and/or funeral home.

Q: WHY IS THE MEDICAL EXAMINER INVOLVED?
A: State law requires the Medical Examiner to inquire into and determine the circumstances,  manner, and cause of all deaths that are a result of violence, accident, suicide, or suddenly  when in apparent good health or when not attended by a physician, when in prison, deaths that occur in a suspicious or unusual manner, or deaths that occur within twenty four hours after admission to a hospital or institution. The deceased will be taken to the Medical Examiner's facility and examined by a physician to determine the cause of death. 

Q: WILL AN AUTOPSY BE PERFORMED?
A: Autopsies are routinely performed to determine cause and manner of death on all cases  due to accident, homicide, during work, and under suspicious circumstances.  Autopsies are not routinely performed on cases in which the deceased has a significant medical history and the death is from natural causes.

Q: WILL THE FAMILY BE CONTACTED WITH THE AUTOPSY RESULTS?
A: No, the Department of the Medical Examiner does not automatically contact family with autopsy results, as some persons do not want to discuss the results.  However, family may call the Medical Examiner's office after the examination to inquire into the autopsy results.

Q: HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE BEFORE MY RELATIVE/FRIEND IS RELEASED FROM YOUR FACILITY?
A: The deceased normally can be released 24 hours after the examination is performed.  There may be a delay if identification needs to be established.

Q: WILL AUTOPSY REPORTS BE AVAILABLE?
A: Yes, you may obtain a copy by sending a written request to:  Department of the Medical Examiner, 835 Iwilei Road, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96817.  There is a five dollar ($5.00) processing fee.  Please enclose a check for the amount made payable to Department of the Medical Examiner.  A copy of the autopsy report will be mailed to you when it is completed.  Please understand that, occasionally, final reports may take as much as six (6) to eight (8) weeks to be completed.

Q: WILL I BE CHARGED FOR MEDICAL EXAMINER SERVICES?
A: No, there are no charges for Medical Examiner services.

Q: WHERE CAN I OBTAIN A DEATH CERTIFICATE?
A:  Death certificates are filed with the State Department of Health by your mortuary
/funeral home.  Should you require certified copies, they can be ordered through your mortuary/funeral home or from the Vital Statistics Section, State Department of Health, 1250 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 96813, (808) 586-4539.

Q: WHAT ABOUT VETERANS OR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS?
A: Your funeral director should be able to answer any questions about these matters.  If not, contact the Veterans Administration at (800) 827-1000, or the Social Security Office at 
(800) 772-1213.

Q: THERE ARE NO FUNDS FOR BURIAL.  WHAT CAN I DO?
A: If the deceased or his/her family do not have sufficient funds for burial, the next of kin may apply for State disposition.  This may be accomplished by contacting the Department of Human Services, Med Quest at (808) 587-3521.

Q: WHEN CAN PERSONAL POSSESSIONS BE CLAIMED?
A: Personal possessions in the custody of the Medical Examiner may be claimed by the next of kin, providing the property is not being held as evidence.  To avoid any inconvenience to you, call our office at (808) 768-3090 prior to coming to the office and you will be advised of any requirements.  Personal possessions may be picked up from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.

Q: WHY DOES MY RELATIVE'S/FRIEND'S RESIDENCE HAVE A LOCK ON THE DOOR?
A: When feasible, the residence is secured with an external lock.  If you are the primary next-of-kin or agent for the deceased, contact our office at (808) 768-3090 to schedule the removal of the lock.

Q: WHAT COMMUNITY RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE TO ME NOW AT THIS DIFFICULT TIME OF LOSS?
A: ACCESS LINE provides a team of trained professionals to help you or a family member in times of crisis.  They also provide mental health services and suicide and crisis intervention.  The ACCESS LINE is available 24/7 from Oahu at (808) 832-3100 or from the outer islands at (800) 753-6879 (toll free).

COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS is a group that helps parents deal with the traumatic loss of a child of any age.  The local contact is Dave Pellegrin at (808) 792-0204.  A toll free number for the Outer Islands is (877) 969-0010.

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Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 27, 2012