The Office of Decedent Affairs is designed to assist families with handling their loved one’s affairs with compassion, dignity and respect.
To provide guidance for families who have lost their loved ones at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Health.
Who We Are
The Office of Decedent Affairs works to ensure that all deaths are handled in a timely, caring, and thorough manner.
When a patient dies, we will assist families in providing information with regards to their options concerning autopsy, anatomical donation, and funeral home/crematory decisions.
Read the frequently asked questions about person(s)/loved ones that die at Wake Forest Baptist or for decedents that are brought to the autopsy service under medical examiner jurisdiction.
After the Death of a Loved One
If your loved one is a potential organ/tissue donor, Carolina Donor Services and/or Miracles In Sight will contact the next of kin to discuss procurement.
Contact the funeral home/cremation service chosen to let them know your loved one has died and that the family would like to use their services. Provide the hospital nursing staff with the funeral home/cremation service that the family has chosen. This information must be provided by the legal next of kin.
In the event of the funeral home/cremation service being undecided at the time of death, please call The Office of Decedent Affairs (336-716-1184), the morgue (336-716-2634), or the Nursing Supervisors Office after hours (336-716-2011) to give consent for the release of your loved one after arrangements have been made. We must receive consent from the legal next of kin before releasing your loved one from the morgue.
If the legal next of kin has signed the consent form requesting a hospital autopsy; the autopsy staff will notify the funeral home once the autopsy has been completed.
Please ask the nursing staff to assist you with obtaining any personal belongings your loved one may have had during their hospital stay.
The Medical Examiner’s Office is affiliated with the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).
The Medical Examiner’s Office at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is operational Monday-Friday. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Questions concerning your loved one can be answered during those hours by calling 336-716-2634. Please leave a detailed message and a representative will contact you to assist.
Your loved one will undergo a Medical Examiner autopsy at the discretion of the Medical Examiner. The Medical Examiner is an officer of the State of North Carolina. His or her primary purpose is to detect, analyze, and document the medical aspects of certain types of death so that those deaths can be better understood.
Specific cases fall under Medical Examiner jurisdiction. The most common causes are:
- Unknown, unnatural or suspicious circumstances
- Poisoning or suspicion of poisoning
- Sudden, unexpected deaths that are not related to a previously known disease
- Deaths without medical attendance
Each death is different. The Medical Examiner has the legal authority to perform an autopsy. If a death falls under Medical Examiner jurisdiction, the Medical Examiner does not need family permission to perform the autopsy.
While your loved one is under the Jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner for an autopsy, you will not have access to view them. Viewing can be set up with the funeral home or cremation service of your choice.
Upon completion of the autopsy, your loved one will be released to the funeral home or cremation service of your choice.
Medical Examiner autopsy reports are obtained from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh, NC. Although your loved one’s autopsy was performed here at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the autopsy report will come from that office. You cannot obtain an autopsy report from the Medical Examiner’s office here at WFBMC. Please contact the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to obtain a copy 800-672-7024 or by visiting North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Release of medicolegal (Medical Examiner) autopsy reports is dependent on a number of factors:
- The complexity of the case that may require specialized outside consultants
- The complexity of toxicological analysis, which is performed at the NC Office of the State Toxicology Laboratory at the Office of the Chief Examiner (OCME) in Raleigh, NC
- The complexity of law enforcement investigations
- Time for review of autopsy reports by the forensic pathologists at OCME after finalization of reports from Wake Forest Baptist Health (all ME autopsy reports from WFBMC are reviewed by the forensic pathologists at OCME), which is dependent on OCME's workload and staffing
Hospital Autopsy Reports (non-Medical Examiner Autopsy) can be obtained from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center medical records by calling 336-716-3229. In general, hospital reports will be finalized in 60 days. Exceptions may include outside specialized consultation or need for specialized stains or extraneous testing that may take an extended time.
- Social Security Administration: 800-772-1213
- Survivor benefits vary; call to check eligibility
- The deceased must have served in the U.S. Military
- Survivor benefits vary; call to check eligibility