No one ever wants to get a call from the Travis County Medical Examiner’s (TCME) Office. The TCME handles medicolegal investigations. That’s a formal term for investigations into questionable deaths.
The work of the Travis County Medical Examiner could impact your ability to make funeral arrangements and the timeline for the services that are involved whether or not an autopsy is needed. Even if you have had the unfortunate responsibility of handling another loved one’s death, there will be additional matters to take care of and procedures that have to be taken when the TCME investigates. Not knowing where to turn or what to do next can make the already stressful situation feel overwhelming.
If you’ve gotten a call from the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office here’s the steps to take.
Step 1 – Find Out Why the Death is Being Investigated
When you receive the initial call from the TCME you should be given basic information. Make sure you find out why the death is being investigated. There are a number of things that can automatically trigger an investigation. The reason for the investigation can heavily influence the timeline and procedures that are taken.
Step 2 – Find Out If an Autopsy Will Be Done
One thing you’ll want to know is whether an autopsy needs to be performed. Sometimes the medical examiner can determine a cause of death through a physical examination instead of an autopsy. If an autopsy needs to be performed that means the funeral services related to the body disposition will be put on hold. Typically, the body should be released by the TCME within 24 hours.
RELATED READ: Are Autopsy Reports Public Record in Texas?
Step 3 – Contact Your Funeral Home
Now that you have an idea of what is happening at the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office you can contact your funeral home to let them know about the situation. The funeral director can help you make the necessary arrangements. They’ll also get in contact with TCME to line up transport as soon as it’s possible.
Step 4 – Sign a Release Form
The funeral home will be able to provide a Release Form. The form must be submitted so that the body can be released to the funeral home. Only the legal next of kin can sign the Release Form.
Step 5 – Get Your Loved One’s Personal Effects
The TCME will secure any personal effects that were with your loved one. Normally, all personal effects are released to the funeral home with the body. However, if you’d like to pick the items up yourself on the release form you can request that the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office hold on to them until you can retrieve them.
Step 6 – Contact the TCME Office With Additional Questions
If you still have questions or aren’t sure what step to take next, give TCME a call. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office can be reached at (512) 854-9599 any time of day.
You can also contact the team at Green Cremation Texas for assistance. We handle all of the stressful details for the family so that you can tend to personal matters or simply have time for yourself to process everything. We’re available 24/7 by phone, text or email.