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In the U.S., an autopsy can be ordered by a coroner or medical examiner if there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Autopsies may also be ordered, depending upon the jurisdiction, in special circumstances, for example, if a death occurs in a person not under medical treatment for a known condition, if a death occurs within 24 hours of admission to the hospital, or if death occurs during a surgical procedure.
If an autopsy is not ordered by the coroner or medical examiner, the relatives of the deceased must give consent for an autopsy to be performed. The relatives providing consent also have the right to limit the scope of the autopsy, which means that they specify the organs or areas of the body that may or may not be examined.
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