A client with terminal cancer arrives at the emergency department dead on arrival (DOA). After an autopsy is prescribed, the client’s family requests that no autopsy be performed. Which response to the family is most appropriate?

An autopsy is required by state law in certain circumstances, including the sudden death of a client and a death that occurs under suspicious circumstances. A client may have provided oral or written instructions regarding an autopsy after death. If an autopsy is not required by law, these oral or written requests will be granted. If no oral or written instructions were provided, state law determines who has the authority to consent for an autopsy. Most often, the decision rests with the surviving relative or next of kin.

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