How Autopsies Work

Haunting Work

Having learned some of the grisly details of this job, it is easy to wonder how anyone could to do this for a living without suffering severe psychological side effects.

"You've got to be the type of person who can emotionally disconnect it, " Kiesel says. "I mean, if you went into a case looking at it as, 'Geez, this is somebody's little girl or somebody's little boy,' you'd never be able to do the case. You can't personalize it in any way ... When you walk in, you never forget that this is somebody's loved one. You never forget that, but when you walk in to do the job, you kinda put that information aside. You look at them more as a puzzle, and your job is to sort out this puzzle. I've got to find out what happened. Who, what, why, when, where. I mean, that's what my job is, to sort out and get those answers. And, do it in a respectful way."


"A lot of people can't do this type of job. A lot of people don't want to do this type of job. There are a lot of jobs I wouldn't want to do either."

For more information on autopsies, medical examiners and related topics, check out the links below.

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More Great Links


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Table 2: Selected Characteristics of Deaths Requiring Autopsy by State. " 2013. (Sept. 9, 2018)
  • Connolly, Dr. Andrew J.; Finkbeiner, Dr. Walter E.; Ursell, Dr, Richard L.; and Davis, Dr. Richard L. "Autopsy Pathology: A Manual and Atlas E-Book." Elsevier. 2016. (Sept. 9 2018)
  • Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. "Autopsy." (Sept. 9. 2018)
  • Interview with Dr. Eric Kiesel, Fulton County, Ga. Deputy Medical Examiner, 2004.
  • Jentzen, Jeffrey M. "Death Investigation in America: Coroners, Medical Examiners, and the Pursuit of Medical Certainty." Harvard University Press. 2009. (Sept. 9, 2018)
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine. " Autopsy." (Sept. 9, 2018),P00949
  • Miletich, John J. and Lindstrom, Tia Laura. "An Introduction to the Work of a Medical Examiner: From Death Scene to Autopsy Suite. " Praeger. 2010. (Sept. 9, 2018)
  • National Association of Medical Examiners. "So You Want to Be a Medical Detective." (Sept. 9, 2018)
  • "Forensic Autopsy--A Body of Clues. " Aug. 27, 2007. (Sept. 9, 2018)
  • Saukko, Pekka and Knight, Bernard. "Knight's Forensic Pathology Fourth Edition." CRC Press. 2016. (Sept. 9, 2018)
  • Stoppler, Dr. Melissa Conrad. "Autopsy." Emedicinehealth. Nov. 20, 2017. (Sept. 9, 2018)
  • Uthman, Dr. Ed. "The Routine Autopsy." 2001. (Sept. 9, 2018).
  • Yale School of Medicine. "What is an Autopsy?" (Sept. 9, 2018)