Amendment to NYS Public Health Law §4510

Q. This week’s Q&A is a little different from others that we have addressed in the past.  A smaller hospital contacted us regarding a patient that had recently died at home after undergoing a surgical procedure in the hospital.  The patient experienced some post-surgical complications and was admitted as an in-patient for approximately 2-3 days.  The patient died shortly after discharge from the hospital.  A representative from the hospital contacted us and wanted to obtain a copy of the autopsy report for quality assurance review.  Is the hospital entitled to the autopsy report?

A. Yes the hospital is entitled to the autopsy report since within the past ten years, NYS Public Health Law § 4510 (2-a) was amended to accommodate this specific scenario.  When a person dies while under care or treatment at a general hospital or while recovering from such care of treatment, an autopsy report shall be made available to the hospital in a timely manner by the coroner/medical examiner for purposes of  the hospital’s quality assurance review process.  In the situation above, the County Coroner immediately released a copy of the autopsy report to the facility when alerted to PHL § 4510 (2-a).