Office of Decedent Affairs

The Mayo Clinic Office of Decedent Affairs (ODA) provides support to patients, families and health care teams for continuity between end-of-life and postmortem care. The ODA team is dedicated to assisting patients and their families with inquiries regarding the death certificate process; autopsy services; eye, tissue, or organ donation; research; and other end-of-life and postmortem care inquiries.

For families


What is an autopsy?

An autopsy is an examination of the body to primarily determine the cause and manner of death. The cause of death is the underlying disease that resulted in the death. The manner of death is a determination based upon the circumstances surrounding the death.

Why would I consider requesting an autopsy for myself or my loved one?

An autopsy can provide diagnostic insight into an individual's underlying disease(s). The examination may confirm a known diagnosis or identify a previously unappreciated disease process. Some diagnoses, such as many types of dementia, require a postmortem examination to make a definitive diagnosis. The autopsy may, if the patient or family member is interested, also allow the decedent to participate in research and education.

How much does an autopsy cost?

For Mayo Clinic patients, an autopsy is performed without medical cost to the family.

Will an autopsy interfere with the final arrangements of my loved one?

Final arrangements are not delayed due to autopsy. An open casket viewing is possible after an autopsy. Religious beliefs, practices and rituals surrounding the death of a loved one are respected.

How do I get a copy of an autopsy report?

Autopsy reports are available approximately eight to 10 weeks from the time of autopsy. To obtain a final copy of the autopsy report, contact 507-293-7800, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

How do I request outside autopsy reports or outside autopsy material be reviewed by Mayo Clinic?

Contact the Office of Decedent Affairs for guidance on requests for review of autopsy reports or autopsy material generated external to Mayo Clinic’s Minnesota campus.

How do I arrange to have an autopsy performed at Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota?

Whether you are a Mayo Clinic patient or not, an Office of Decedent Affairs Specialist will gladly assist you in arranging an autopsy at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. If you are requesting to establish an autopsy in advance of death, contact the Office of Decedent Affairs during regular business hours. The Office of Decedent Affairs Specialist will assist you with completing an Advance Directive and providing instructions for when death occurs. If your loved one has passed away, contact the Office of Decedent Affairs following death to establish consent for autopsy and arrange logistics for the transportation and arrival of your loved one to our facilities.

Death certificates

How do I get certified death certificates?

There are two ways to obtain certified death certificate(s):

  1. Your chosen funeral home can order death certificates.
  2. You may go to the Vital Records area at any courthouse or government center in Minnesota to complete an application.
How long does it take to receive a death certificate?

For deaths in which there is not an autopsy, death certificates may take up to two weeks. For deaths in which an autopsy is performed, death certificates may take two months. Inquiries regarding the status of a death certificate may be made by contacting the Office of Decedent Affairs.

Final arrangements

How do I make final arrangements for my loved one who has passed away?

When a loved one has passed away, the family may choose any funeral home to work with. The funeral home of choice does not have to be in the location in which your loved one has passed. The funeral home of choice will assist the family in making decisions for final arrangements, including memorial or funeral services, burial, embalming, and cremation options.

It is helpful to prepare the following information of your loved one when meeting with your funeral home of choice:

  • Social security number
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Legal name
  • Years of education
  • Occupation
  • Life insurance policies
  • Mother's maiden name
  • DD214 (military discharge)

For nursing homes

  • Deaths of nursing home residents who are under the primary care of a Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, physician are reported to the Office of Decedent Affairs using a Licensed Nursing Home Death Reporting form within two hours of death.
  • Nursing homes should provide clinical problems list(s) and perimortem nursing notes to the Office of Decedent Affairs for three days prior to death.
  • Reportable deaths under medical examiner jurisdiction require immediate notification to the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office.
  • The death certificate will be signed by Mayo Clinic Pathology. Deaths under medical examiner jurisdiction require the medical examiner to sign the death certificate.

For funeral homes

  • All cremation inquiries from funeral homes should be sent to
  • All non-emergent inquiries should be sent to the Office of Decedent Affairs at DLRSTPRSMEODA@
  • For immediate assistance or facilitation of an autopsy request, please contact the Office of Decedent Affairs at 507-293-7800.

Contact information

Office of Decedent Affairs staff

  • 507-293-7800
    24-hour service

Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office

  • 507-284-3040
    Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • 507-285-8580
    Non-business hours via Olmsted County Law Enforcement Center