Private Autopsies:

Board certified FORENSIC PATHOLOGISTS in private Tampa, FL lab. Call the rest, then hire the BEST.

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Second Autopsy

Second autopsies by Final Diagnosis, Inc. can provide reassurances on the validity of an initial autopsy report. That said, second autopsies offer unique challenges. They can occasionally uncover missed trauma, disease, or poisoning (see image). The second autopsy pathologist must also contend with the artifacts of the earlier dissection. Vital information that was evident to the original pathologist should be obtained if feasible. For example, the relationships between organs, reactions like bleeding, and the original appearances of these organs should be clarified. A pathologist that proceeds with a second autopsy in a vacuum is asking for trouble. Artifacts such as blood oozing from vessels can lead to the appearance of trauma when it may not have initially existed. Critical diagnostic tissues may be also be absent given the need by the original pathologist to either test or retain evidentiary specimens. The physical evidence which can be seen on the first autopsy is significantly diminished in the second autopsy. It is important that the private autopsy pathologist spends time discussing the value (or not) of proceeding with an autopsy at any juncture.

What was initially a natural death was in fact a poisoning: antifreeze ingestion leading to ethylene glycol poisoning, suggesting either suicide, homicide, or perhaps accident.

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COVID-19 or Not?

pills on gray background

Photo by cottonbro on

At the time of death, unless the death was suspected due or contributed by COVID-19, typically the traditional testing will not happen.  Many families are left wondering.  For the sake of safety and ultimate data for which to counsel and decide whether or not to autopsy, we have embarked on testing before an autopsy, for a deposit of $1000, enabling a multiplexed molecular based nasopharyngeal swab test taken at the funeral home.  This gets applied toward the total cost of the autopsy. In addition, we review the background circumstances and counsel the family.  The test is a comprehensive molecular based (PCR) test for not only SAR-CoV-2 (the agent of COVID-19) but also a variety of other common respiratory pathogens. This is much different than other autopsy services which may offer less expensive/less comprehensive serologic tests which detect IgG and/or IgM antibodies: these may or may not reflect an active infection and if positive or negative, that question would still exist (are they infected now?).  This testing is not only helpful to the family but it is for the safety of our autopsy staff doctors, techs and photographers.  In the event the COVID-19 test is positive, counseling as to the likely meaning will occur, but the autopsy will not. In the event the COVID-19 testing is negative, if still interested, the family can consider the full autopsy to seek out the answers to the questions at hand and the $1000 is applied to those costs.

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Viral Respiratory Pathogens testing

Do you think your loved one died from COVID-19?

A variety of medical conditions have similar symptoms to Covid-19.  Final Diagnosis Inc. is providing molecular testing for COVID-19 and 21 other viral pathogens on decedents.  Many individuals that die with COVID-19 have underlying medical conditions that may be felt to be the more likely cause of death, particularly if testing for the  SARS-CoV-2 virus has not been performed.  In Florida the Medical Examiner is not autopsying COVID-19 deaths. We are performing autopsies on COVID-19 deaths after embalming.  If not embalmed, we will only open the torso and not examine the cranial cavity. We can also just review the medical records to help understand the events leading up to their passing.

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How to Obtain a Private Autopsy in Florida

If your loved one has died in a hospital, and an autopsy is desired, first ask about having the autopsy done by the hospital’s pathology staff. This is the first advice I always give as it may, under those circumstances, be free of charge. Talk to the doctor of record for your loved one because if they ask, there is a better chance it will happen. That said, many hospitals these days do not have such means. If you choose a private pathology service, be sure the autopsy provider you choose is a board certified pathologist, licensed in that state where the exam occurs, and preferably boarded in both anatomic and forensic pathology. Many national autopsy service providers use a lay tech/assistant who dissects and simply works with a pathologist, and they may not even be present for that dissection. This kind of thing unfortunately happens. It is only through first hand dissection, observing internal relationships and appreciating the reactions to lesions and correlating with history that one arrives at correct opinions to cause and manner of death. If you really want to know “what happened?”, speak to us at

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Death Certificates Unreliable for Cause of Death

1 in 3 wrong? Think your grandmother or parent died from heart disease? Maybe not. The ratio of incorrect causes and contributors in caregiver-signed death certificates is probably much much higher than this because: .

1. Doctors other than forensic pathologists are usually not adequately trained in death certication.

2. Inundated M.E./coroner offices often do not autopsy individuals over certain criteria even with no history. Those people who are over that criteria ….well, they will be likely listed as dying from cardiovascular disease “whether they have it or not”.

Want to really know what happened?

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Funeral Homes Wait for an Autopsy Here?

funeral homeYes!  Your funeral home staff can wait in comfort during an autopsy here at our facility.   We have a meeting room for family conferences and a comfortable waiting area with refreshments, TV, comfy lounge chairs plus – free WiFi.  If you are in the funeral home business and any of your families need an autopsy for their peace-of-mind, please watch the short video below, thank you.

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Private Autopsy in Tampa, Florida

Final Diagnosis, Inc. is one of the only free-standing private autopsy facilities in the United States.  A further unique feature is that it  is owned and operated exclusively by a board certified forensic, anatomic and clinical pathologist, Dr. Daniel L. Schultz, M.D.  Dr. Schultz is highly experienced having personally performed roughly 6000 autopsies in 28 years.   He personally does the private autopsy, or an equally trained forensic pathologist,  from start to finish.  Some autopsy services use lay technicians to do the exam or have little experience with trauma and/or legal issues.  The initial consultation is free, and doesn’t always lead to a private autopsy.   Knowing when to autopsy is half the battle.  Final Diagnosis, Inc. and Dr. Schultz are here first to listen.   Call 727-639-1897 or email us for an initial consultation.  That means Dr. Schultz does not automatically accept every death for a private autopsy.   If the question is simply “what happened?” or “what did not happen?”, we may be able to answer that without the private autopsy.

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Bleeding to death: rat poison (brodifacoum) in marijuana or synthetic marijuana

A current outbreak over 100 individuals sickened and at least three dead due to massive internal bleeding in the U.S. from  synthetic marijuana laced with rat poison has led to serious questions as to how or why this might have happened.  I have not seen anything written about reasons why such mixtures would occur or a case report (yet) in native marijuana, but recent relevant articles from some environmentalist/animal rights groups about use of rodenticides in some marijuana farms give me suspicions on how it could actually happen in naturally grown marijuana.   It is known that some marijuana crops farmers have used brodifacoum, the active ingredient in most rat poisons, in order to prevent rats from eating their prized marijuana crops.  The reason environmental and animal activist groups have raised concerns is due to the effects particularly on the upper food chain:  rats eat the poison, birds eat the rats, on and on.  Owls in particular have been reportedly killed as  a consequence of this.  One consideration that I raise is that the intended product perhaps gets grossly contaminated during the harvest process and mixed in. Keep in mind this business practice (at least while is illegal in some states) is often handled by less than knowledgeable people without quality processes in mind.   It just so happens that most rat poisons that I have encountered containing  brodifacoum do actually have a similar green color, but it is really a bit more teal or blue-green.   It remains to be seen what the source and cause of this dangerous marijuana blend may  be, but it certainly is not something that adds to the “high”.  The use by some marijuana farmers to protect the crops from rats seems to me to be the most likely culprit.   Sickening and or killing the end users certainly does not sound like an intentional business plan. But you never know.


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What happened?


Just because a decedent has a death certificate with the cause of death does not necessarily mean they died from that condition.   While this may seem shocking to some, death certificates are not a good statistical data source for cause of death studies.  For families, unless a competent medical autopsy is performed, knowing what really happened is a guess.

For instance, in my own experience, previously unidentified cancers can be found roughly 9% of the time.  Cancer may be an incidental finding in an isolated organ but occasionally it is widespread and even the cause of death!   A fall and an impact to the head can lead to massive and devastating  intracranial bleeds.  This is particularly a problem in individuals on blood thinners.   A variety of stealthy traumas can happen to people that are completely invisible on the outside.  I of course look for these and sometimes find them.

The point is that autopsies add value in most deaths.  Even when you think you know why they died, an autopsy very often reveals a surprise.   Even the most seemingly “obvious” cause of death such as traffic wrecks can in fact be natural deaths.   I have seen many over the years.

It becomes even more problematic when issues such as pain and suffering are questioned after a traumatic death.  If no autopsy occurs, you will never know.  It is truly what is on the inside (correlated with history of course) that counts.


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Medical Malpractice: The Autopsy Truth

Hospital malpractice autopsuMissed diagnoses and medical malpractice effect the overall quality of care. That results in costly strains on our health care system. Most autopsies document good medical care, but depending on the details of the death or injury, performing an autopsy is to simply and objectively discover the true cause of death – which should be the goal for all parties involved.

For example, a hospital where there’s an issue regarding diagnosis of prophylaxis for leg clots or a pulmonary embolism – the speculation of the diagnosis creates additional costs for everyone; hospitals, families, attorneys, etc. Many hospitals might choose to settle medical malpractice, some not. Costs escalate regardless.

autopsy results A properly documented autopsy can reveal the truth. Using the example above – an expert forensic pathologist’s report, supported by high-quality autopsy photos, could show either a pulmonary embolism or not, or possibly an alternative medical-related cause. Finding the true cause of death through an autopsy can be healing for the family as well as reduce medical malpractice costs for the hospital. The truth can not only provide an education for the hospital staff and closure for families – but save everyone time and expensive litigation fees.

Dr. Dan Schultz

As a forensic pathologist, I have a passion for taking on the challenge of discovering the true cause of a death. And as an expert autopsy doctor and pathologist, I provide the non-biased truth, supported with expert photos and documentation. The goal is to get the truth through final diagnosis.




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Autopsy Impacts Insurance Coverage

private autopsy discovers malpracticeWas it an accident or a natural death? It matters to insurance companies! The autopsy is an independent evaluation which documents the truth, through both direct observation, subsequent photography, microscopy and other testing as needed. It is critical to realize that Dr. Schultz can only speak to the facts; there are no “sides” taken no matter who retains Dr. Schultz. The value of the autopsy is in the potential to end speculation and uncertainty for those family members left behind. If you need the truth of how a death occurred – we can help find the answer. Give us a call, we’ll provide free consultation regarding your case. The short video below provides some answers. (Click to return to blogs)