Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 194
Death--Disposition of Dead Bodies
Section 194.115

August 28, 2014


Autopsy--consent required--penalty for violation--availability of report, to whom.

194.115. 1. Except when ordered or directed by a public officer, court of record or agency authorized by law to order an autopsy or postmortem examination, it is unlawful for any licensed physician and surgeon to perform an autopsy or postmortem examination upon the remains of any person without the consent of one of the following:

(1) The deceased, if in writing, and duly signed and acknowledged prior to his death; or

(2) A person designated by the deceased in a durable power of attorney that expressly refers to the giving of consent to an autopsy or postmortem examination; or

(3) The surviving spouse; or

(4) If the surviving spouse through injury, illness or mental capacity is incapable of giving his or her consent, or if the surviving spouse is unknown, or his or her address unknown or beyond the boundaries of the United States, or if he or she has been separated and living apart from the deceased, or if there is no surviving spouse, then any surviving child, parent, brother or sister, in the order named; or

(5) If no surviving child, parent, brother or sister can be contacted by telephone or telegraph, then any other relative, by blood or marriage; or

(6) If there are no relatives who assume the right to control the disposition of the remains, then any person, friend or friends who assume such responsibility.

2. If an individual through injury, illness, or mental capacity is incapable of giving consent prior to his or her death as contemplated by subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of this section, then any child, parent, brother or sister of said individual may petition the court to order that an autopsy or postmortem examination shall be performed upon the remains of said individual following his or her passing.

3. If the surviving spouse, child, parent, brother or sister hereinabove mentioned is under the age of twenty-one years, but over the age of sixteen years, such minor shall be deemed of age for the purpose of granting the consent hereinabove required.

4. Any licensed physician and surgeon performing an autopsy or postmortem examination with the consent of any of the persons enumerated in subsection 1 of this section shall use his judgment as to the scope and extent to be performed, and shall be in no way liable for such action.

5. It is unlawful for any licensed physician, unless specifically authorized by law, to hold a postmortem examination on any unclaimed dead without the consent required by section 194.170.

6. Any person not a licensed physician performing an autopsy or any licensed physician performing an autopsy without the authorization herein required shall upon conviction be adjudged guilty of a misdemeanor, and subject to the penalty provided for in section 194.180.

7. If an autopsy is performed on a deceased patient and an autopsy report is prepared, such report shall be made available upon request to the personal representative or administrator of the estate of the deceased, the surviving spouse, any surviving child, parent, brother or sister of the deceased.

(L. 1953 p. 629 ยง 1, A.L. 1961 p. 514, A.L. 1989 H.B. 145, A.L. 2001 S.B. 267, A.L. 2011 S.B. 213)


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