Resource Guide

Coroner’s Office

What they do and Why they do it

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Coroner Information

The mission of the Washoe County Medical Examiner/Coroner Office is to investigate unexpected and unexplained deaths and to determine the manner of death, date, time, cause, and classification.

The Coroner’s investigation is not limited to the examination of the deceased, but may include interviews with family members and other witnesses, the collection of physical evidence and the safeguarding of personal property found at the death scene.

Is an autopsy necessary?

Autopsies are performed only on those cases where it is required by law or where it is necessary to determine the cause of death.

What is an autopsy?

An autopsy is an examination of the deceased performed by a medical doctor. This examination is a professional surgical procedure that is carried out within the standards of competent medical practice.

Will we know the cause of death soon after the autopsy?

Not always. A cause of death most often takes in excess of 12-weeks to determine, particularly if toxicology tests are performed.

What do I do now?

Contact the funeral home and/or the funeral home consumer alliance group of your choice. They are prepared to provide you information so that you can make your own selections and decisions. They will coordinate with the Coroner to arrange the release of your loved one’s remains from the Coroner’s facility.

When can I have the funeral?

The Coroner’s examination should not delay your funeral plans. The Coroner will complete their investigation as soon as possible.

What is required for the Coroner to release the remains/body & personal property?

The mortuary must provide the Coroner with a release form signed by the legal next of kin.

If the case is pending investigation, will it delay the funeral of my loved one?

No. Death certificates are not necessary for funerals. However, some financial, estate, probate or business matters may be dependent upon the final death certificate.

How can I obtain a certified copy of the death certificate?

Call the Washoe Co. Health Dept. at (775) 328-2456 or visit their office at 9th & Wells in Reno, NV. Call 211 for death certificate information in other areas within Nevada. There is a fee assessed by the County for birth/death certificates. Call the number provided above to get the most current pricing. You may qualify to obtain a death certificate if you are a direct family member by blood or marriage, the deceased person’s guardian, or his or her legal representative. You must provide photo identification.

How do I obtain a copy of the Coroner’s report?

Copies of completed autopsies are available to next of kin, or other person such as attending physicians, law enforcement, or any person who, by subpoena, seeks information for a judicial proceeding. Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office will provide one copy to a family.