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UPDATED ADVISORY CONCERNING ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES, THE PRACTICE OF “VAPING,” “JUULING” AND USE OF OTHER ELECTRONIC NICOTINE DELIVERY SYSTEMS OR ENDS

POST-MORTEM EXAMINATIONS T.C.A. § 38 -7-101 to 201

38-7-101.  Short title.
 

This part shall be known and may be cited as the "Post-Mortem Examination Act."

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 1; T.C.A., § 38-701.

 

 

38-7-102.  Post-mortem examination division.

The department of health is authorized and empowered to create and maintain a post-mortem examination division or service. The division or service shall have as its functions the investigation of certain deaths as defined in this part, and the keeping of full and complete records of all reports on investigations and examinations made pursuant to this part. The commissioner of health, acting for the state and with the approval of the governor and considering the recommendation made by the Tennessee medical examiner advisory council, shall appoint a chief medical examiner to direct the division or service, and such other personnel as the commissioner may find appropriate to the enforcement of the duties and powers of this part. The commissioner is authorized and empowered to spend such funds as may be appropriated for the enforcement of this part, and to promulgate rules through the department of health to establish fees for autopsies, guidelines for death investigations and forensic autopsies, and other costs and services associated with this part.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 2; 1980, ch. 810, § 2; T.C.A., § 38-702; Acts 2008, ch. 969, § 1.

 

 

38-7-103.  Chief medical examiner -- Deputies and assistants -- Duties and authority.

(a) The chief medical examiner shall be a physician with an unlimited license to practice medicine and surgery in the state of Tennessee, or who is qualified and eligible for such license, and shall be required to obtain a license within the six-month period after employment. The chief medical examiner shall be a pathologist who is certified by the American Board of Pathology and who holds a certificate of competency in forensic pathology. In addition to the chief medical examiner's other administrative duties, the chief medical examiner's educational duties shall include developing and providing initial training and regular continuing education to all county medical examiners and medical investigators. The chief medical examiner shall be appointed to a five-year term, and may serve unlimited consecutive terms.

(b) The Tennessee medical examiner advisory council shall recommend to the chief medical examiner three (3) deputy state medical examiners, one (1) from each grand division of the state. The chief medical examiner, in consultation with the advisory council and with the approval of the commissioner of health, shall appoint the three (3) deputy state medical examiners and any assistant state medical examiners needed for regional administrative, professional and technical duties. The deputy medical examiners shall be based in one (1) of the state forensic centers. These state medical examiners shall have the same qualifications as the chief medical examiner. In addition to their other administrative, professional and technical duties, the deputy and assistant state medical examiners may lecture to medical and law school classes and conduct such special classes for county medical examiners and law enforcement officers and other investigators.

(c) The chief medical examiner shall have investigative authority for certain types of death that are in the interests of the state, including mass fatality incidents, for the identification, examination and disposition of victims' remains, and instances that represent a threat to the public health or safety, or both.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 3; T.C.A., § 38-703; Acts 1994, ch. 775, §§ 1, 2; 2008, ch. 969, §§ 2-4.

 

 

38-7-104.  County medical examiner.

(a) A county medical examiner shall be appointed by the county mayor, subject to confirmation by the county legislative body, based on a recommendation from a convention of physicians resident in the county. A county medical examiner shall be a physician who is either a graduate of an accredited medical school authorized to confer upon graduates the degree of doctor of medicine (M.D.) and who is duly licensed in Tennessee, or is a graduate of a recognized osteopathic college authorized to confer the degree of doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) and who is licensed to practice osteopathic medicine in Tennessee, and shall be elected from a list of a maximum of two (2) doctors of medicine or osteopathy nominated by convention of the physicians, medical or osteopathic, resident in the county, the convention to be called for this purpose by the county mayor.

(b) If it is not possible to obtain an acceptance as a county medical examiner from a physician in a county, authority is given for the election of a county medical examiner from an adjacent or another county. A county medical examiner, when temporarily unable to perform the duties of the office, shall have the authority to deputize any other physician in the area to act as county medical examiner during the absence. If the county legislative body fails to certify a county medical examiner for a county or if the county medical examiner resigns or is unable to fulfill the duties of the office during the interim between county legislative body sessions and a deputy has not been appointed by the county medical examiner, the chief medical examiner shall have the authority to appoint a county medical examiner to serve until the next session of the county legislative body.

(c) A county medical examiner shall serve a five-year term, and shall be eligible for reappointment by the county mayor with confirmation by the county legislative body.

(d) Whenever any county medical examiner shall be called as a witness in any proceedings before the grand jury or in any criminal case, the county medical examiner shall receive from the county as compensation for services as witness a fee as shall be determined by the court before which the proceedings are conducted, unless the fees are paid under provisions of § 38-7-111 [repealed].

(e) The county medical examiner may be suspended by the county mayor for good cause, which shall include, but not be limited to, malfeasance in the performance of the duties of a county medical examiner, criminal conduct, or behavior that is unethical in nature or that is in violation of a relevant code of professional medical responsibility. The suspension shall be for a period of ninety (90) days. At the end of the ninety (90) day period, the suspension shall terminate, unless the county mayor has recommended to the county legislative body in writing that they remove the county medical examiner from office. If the county mayor recommends removal of the county medical examiner, then the county legislative body shall vote on whether to remove the county medical examiner from office within ninety (90) days of the date of the written recommendation. A majority vote shall be required in order to remove the county medical examiner from office. If a majority of the county legislative body does not vote for removal of the county medical examiner from office, then the suspension of the county medical examiner shall terminate immediately.

(f)  (1) A medical investigator shall be a licensed emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, registered nurse, physician's assistant or a person registered by or a diplomat of the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators and approved by the county medical examiner as qualified to serve as medical investigator.

   (2) If the county has an elected coroner, the coroner shall serve as the medical investigator for the county; provided, that such coroner meets the qualifications for a medical investigator set out in subdivision (f)(1). If the coroner is not qualified to serve as medical investigator, then the county legislative body shall, by resolution, either authorize the county medical examiner to appoint a medical investigator subject to confirmation by the county legislative body, or provide for this function through a contract for service approved by the county medical examiner and the county legislative body; provided, however, that, if the county has an elected coroner who has served in that capacity for ten (10) years or more, such coroner shall serve as the medical investigator for the county, regardless of whether the coroner meets the qualifications set out in subdivision (f)(1).

   (3) The county medical investigator may conduct investigations when a death is reported, as provided in § 38-7-108, under the supervision of the county medical examiner. The county medical investigator may make pronouncements of death and may recommend to the county medical examiner that an autopsy be ordered. However, the county medical investigator shall not be empowered to sign a death certificate. The county medical examiner may delegate to the county medical investigator the authority to order an autopsy.

(g) County medical examiners and medical investigators shall be required to receive initial training and regular continuing education through the chief medical examiner and to operate according to the death investigation guidelines adopted by the department of health.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 4; 1967, ch. 399, § 1; 1969, ch. 21, § 1; 1971, ch. 246, § 1; 1977, ch. 141, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 7, 36; T.C.A., § 38-704; Acts 1983, ch. 12, § 1; 1994, ch. 775, § 3; 2003, ch. 90, § 2; 2004, ch. 651, §§ 1, 2; 2005, ch. 472, § 1; 2008, ch. 969, §§ 5-10.

 

 

38-7-105.  Facility for performance of autopsies -- Deadline for accreditation in certain counties.

(a) All autopsies must be performed at a facility accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). A facility must receive accreditation from NAME within one (1) year of July 1, 2012, maintain accreditation and operate pursuant to NAME guidelines unless the facility operates in a county which qualifies for an extension under subsection (b).

(b) A facility must receive accreditation from NAME within one (1) year of July 1, 2014, maintain accreditation and operate pursuant to NAME guidelines if the facility is located in any county having a population of not less than three hundred thirty-six thousand four hundred (336,400) nor more than three hundred thirty-six thousand five hundred (336,500), according to the 2010 federal census or any subsequent federal census.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 5; 1967, ch. 399, § 2; 1968, ch. 626, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 7, 16, 36; T.C.A., § 38-705; Acts 1994, ch. 775, § 4; 1995, ch. 258, § 1; 2008, ch. 969, § 11; 2009, ch. 392, § 1; 2012, ch. 671, § 1; 2013, ch. 67, § 1.

 

 

38-7-106.  When autopsies authorized -- Notice to next of kin -- Donor eyes and eye tissues.

(a) A county medical examiner may perform or order an autopsy on the body of any person in a case involving a homicide, suspected homicide, a suicide, a violent, unnatural or suspicious death, an unexpected apparent natural death in an adult, sudden unexpected infant and child deaths, deaths believed to represent a threat to public health or safety, and executed prisoners. When the county medical examiner decides to order an autopsy, the county medical examiner shall notify the district attorney general and the chief medical examiner. The chief medical examiner or the district attorney general may order an autopsy in such cases on the body of a person in the absence of the county medical examiner or if the county medical examiner has not ordered an autopsy. The district attorney general may order an autopsy in such cases on the body of a person in the absence of the county medical examiner or the failure of the county medical examiner to act. The authority ordering the autopsy shall notify the next of kin about the impending autopsy if the next of kin is known or reasonably ascertainable. The sheriff or other law enforcement agency of the jurisdiction shall serve process containing such notice and return such process within twenty-four (24) hours.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), if a request is received from an authorized official of a not-for-profit corporation chartered under the laws of the state, or authorized to do business in the state and certified by the Eye Bank Association of America to obtain, store and distribute donor eyes and eye tissues to be used for corneal transplants, for research and for other medical purposes, the county medical examiner may permit, at any time, the removal of the cornea or corneal tissue from the body of a deceased person in accordance with title 68, chapter 30, part 1.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 6; T.C.A., § 38-706; Acts 1984, ch. 917, § 1; 1991, ch. 356, § 1; 1994, ch. 775, § 5; 1995, ch. 258, § 2; 2007, ch. 428, § 2; 2008, ch. 969, § 12.

 

38-7-107.  Disinterment to perform autopsy.

 

  (a)  (1) When a person's death occurs under any of the circumstances set out in this part, any of the following persons may request the district attorney general in the district where the body is buried or interred to petition the appropriate circuit or criminal court judge in the district where a body is buried or interred to order a body disinterred:

 

      (A) A state or county medical examiner;

 

      (B) The district attorney general of the district in which it is claimed the death occurred;

 

      (C) The district attorney general of the district in which an act causing the death occurred; or

 

      (D) The district attorney general of the district in which the body is buried or interred, in the general's own discretion.

 

   (2) The grounds for disinterment under this subsection (a) are:

 

      (A) The person's death occurred under one (1) of the circumstances set out in this part;

 

      (B) The person was buried or interred before an autopsy could be performed; or

 

      (C) The disinterment will substantially assist in the collection of evidence for a pending criminal investigation, regardless of whether an autopsy was previously performed, or DNA, scientific, or forensic evidence was collected.

 

   (3) The petition shall specify whether the district attorney general is requesting disinterment for the performance of an autopsy, to collect scientific or forensic evidence, to collect a DNA specimen from the deceased, or any combination of the three (3).

 

   (4) The petition shall set forth the district attorney general's belief that the death in question is subject to post-mortem examination or autopsy as provided by this part and the reasons that support the district attorney general's belief as to the circumstances of the death. When known or reasonably ascertainable, a copy of the petition shall be served upon the next of kin of the deceased.

 

   (5) The petition may be presented during a term of court or in vacation and in:

 

      (A) The county in which it is claimed that the death occurred;

 

      (B) The county in which the act causing the death occurred; or

 

      (C) Any other county of a judicial district in which circumstances leading to the death were likely to have occurred.

 

   (6) The judge hearing a petition under this subsection (a) shall have the power and authority to rule upon the petition in any county in which the judge has jurisdiction.

 

(b) Upon the presentation of the petition to the judge, the judge shall be authorized to consider the petition and in the exercise of sound judicial discretion, either make or deny an order authorizing the disinterment and an autopsy to be performed upon the body of the deceased. The cost of disinterment and autopsy shall be paid by the state as provided in § 38-1-104.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 6; 1965, ch. 136, § 1; 1967, ch. 399, § 3; 1973, ch. 195, § 2; T.C.A., § 38-707; Acts 1994, ch. 775, § 6; 2016, ch. 799, §1

 

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38-7-108.  Death under suspicious, unusual or unnatural circumstances.

(a) Any physician, undertaker, law enforcement officer, or other person having knowledge of the death of any person from violence or trauma of any type, suddenly when in apparent health, sudden unexpected death of infants and children, deaths of prisoners or persons in state custody, deaths on the job or related to employment, deaths believed to represent a threat to public health, deaths where neglect or abuse of extended care residents are suspected or confirmed, deaths where the identity of the person is unknown or unclear, deaths in any suspicious/unusual/unnatural manner, found dead, or where the body is to be cremated, shall immediately notify the county medical examiner or the district attorney general, the local police or the county sheriff, who in turn shall notify the county medical examiner. The notification shall be directed to the county medical examiner in the county in which the death occurred.

(b) Whenever a death occurs under the circumstances as set forth in this part, the body shall not be removed from its position or location without authorization by the county medical examiner, except to preserve the body from loss or destruction or to maintain the flow of traffic on a highway, railroad, or airport. No body subject to post-mortem examination as provided by this part shall be embalmed without authorization by the county medical examiner.

(c)  (1) If a body is subject to post-mortem examination under this part, this part shall be suspended to the extent necessary for the preservation of any body or part of the body, as defined in § 68-30-102, where an anatomical gift of the body or part of the body has been made in accordance with the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, compiled in title 68, chapter 30, part 1.

   (2) Any physician, surgeon, undertaker, law enforcement officer, hospital, hospital personnel, or other person who acts in good faith in compliance with this subsection (c) for the purposes established shall be immune from civil or criminal liability for removing, transplanting, or otherwise preserving such body or part of a body.

   (3) This subsection (c) shall govern and supersede any conflicting provisions of law.

   (4) The chief medical examiner of the state and the organ procurement agencies serving the state shall develop a protocol for those instances in which this subsection (c) is applicable. The protocol shall be filed with the department of health and shall be reviewed and updated as necessary.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 7; 1967, ch. 399, § 4; T.C.A., § 38-708; Acts 1983, ch. 84, § 3; 1986, ch. 712, § 1; 2006, ch. 838, § 1; 2008, ch. 969, § 13.

 

38-7-109.  Investigation by county medical examiner.

(a) When a death is reported as provided in § 38-7-108, it is the duty of the county medical examiner in the county in which the death occurred to immediately make an investigation of the circumstances of the death. The county medical examiner shall record and store the findings, and transmit copies according to the death investigation guidelines developed by the Tennessee medical examiner advisory council. In any event the county medical examiner is authorized to remove from the body of the deceased a specimen of blood or other body fluids, or bullets or other foreign objects, and to retain such for testing and/or evidence if in the county medical examiner's judgment these procedures are justified in order to complete the county medical examiner's investigation or autopsy.

(b) When an autopsy is ordered by the district attorney general, the county medical examiner shall notify the chief medical examiner and the county medical examiner may perform the autopsy or shall designate and authorize a pathologist to perform the autopsy as provided in § 38-7-105.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 8; 1965, ch. 320, §§ 1, 2; 1967, ch. 399, § 5; T.C.A., § 38-709; Acts 1994, ch. 775, § 7; 1995, ch. 258, § 3; 2004, ch. 595, § 1; 2008, ch. 969, §§ 14-16.

 

 

38-7-110.  Records received as evidence -- Person preparing report may be subpoenaed as witness -- Reports as public documents -- Release of reports.

(a) The records of the division of post mortem examination, the county medical examiner, or transcripts of the records certified to by the chief medical examiner or the deputy medical examiner or the duly appointed representative of the chief medical examiner, and the reports of the toxicology laboratory examinations performed by the testing laboratory or transcripts of the reports certified to by the director of the testing laboratory or the director's duly appointed representative, shall be received as competent evidence in any court of this state of the facts and matters contained in the records or reports.

(b) The records referred to in this section shall be limited to the records of the results of investigation, of post mortem examinations, of the findings of autopsies and toxicological laboratory examinations, including certified reports of the toxicological laboratory examinations performed by the testing laboratory, and shall not include statements made by witnesses or other persons; provided, however, that persons who prepare reports or records given in evidence pursuant to this section shall be subpoenaed as witnesses, in either civil or criminal cases, upon demand by either party to the cause, or, when unable to appear as witnesses, shall submit a deposition upon demand by either party to the cause.

(c) Subject to subsection (d), the reports of the county medical examiners, toxicological reports and autopsy reports shall be public documents. Medical records of deceased persons, law enforcement investigative reports, and photographs, video and other images of deceased persons shall not be public records.

(d)  (1) Upon written petition by the district attorney general, supported by affidavit or testimony under oath from a law enforcement officer that the release of portions of a report of a county medical examiner, toxicological report or autopsy report may seriously impede or impair the investigation of a homicide or felony, a court of record may order that those portions shall not be subject to disclosure as a public document and shall remain confidential. The court shall cause a record to be kept of any testimony given in support of the petition, which record and all related documentation shall be sealed by the court and open to inspection only by a court reviewing the proceedings.

   (2) The court shall order to be held as confidential only those portions of the records the release of which would impede or impair any such investigation. The court may order public disclosure of any record that has previously been protected from disclosure, upon written application of the district attorney general; provided, that the court shall order that the records shall be open to public inspection upon the indictment and arrest of all suspects in the underlying homicide or felony, or upon the closure of the investigation into the underlying homicide or felony. Upon any such closure of the investigation, the law enforcement agency shall immediately inform the district attorney general, who shall, in turn, promptly notify the court of the altered status of the investigation.

   (3) Any person aggrieved by an order directing that any portion of a report of a county medical examiner, toxicological report or autopsy report shall remain confidential and not open for public inspection may petition the court having entered the order to set aside or modify the order. A copy of any such petition shall be served on the district attorney general. The court may order disclosure of the records previously sealed, upon the showing of a compelling reason for the disclosure. In any order granting a petitioner access to any such records, the court may make provisions as it deems necessary in the order limiting further disclosure of the records.

   (4) Nothing in this subsection (d) shall be construed as limiting the right of any defendant in any criminal proceeding to obtain discovery of any report of a county medical examiner, toxicological report or autopsy report as provided in Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure.

(e)  (1) If it is necessary to prepare a post-mortem examination report, then an authorized post-mortem official may obtain, in the manner prescribed in § 38-7-117, a needed medical, mental health or hospital record pertaining to a case under investigation pursuant to § 38-7-106.

   (2) As used in this subsection (e), "authorized post-mortem official" means:

      (A) The chief medical examiner;

      (B) A county medical examiner;

      (C) A medical investigator;

      (D) A coroner;

      (E) A deputy or assistant state medical examiner or forensic pathologist under the control or direction of the chief medical examiner; or

      (F) A deputy or assistant county medical examiner or forensic pathologist under the control or direction of a county medical examiner.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 9; 1967, ch. 399, § 6; 1971, ch. 209, § 1; 1974, ch. 495, § 1; 1980, ch. 810, § 3; T.C.A., § 38-710; Acts 1994, ch. 775, § 8; 2000, ch. 766, §§ 1-3; 2008, ch. 969, §§ 17, 18; 2014, ch. 944, § 1.

 

38-7-111.  [Repealed.]

 

 

38-7-112.  Immunity of persons performing examinations and autopsies.

  A person who in good faith performs a medical examination or an autopsy under this part is immune from civil or criminal liability in performing the authorized service.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 11; T.C.A., § 38-712; Acts 1994, ch. 775, § 9.

 

38-7-113.  Refusal or neglect to comply with § 38-7-108 -- Penalty.
 

Any person who neglects or refuses to comply with § 38-7-108 commits a Class E felony.

HISTORY: Acts 1961, ch. 174, § 12; T.C.A., § 38-713; Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 111; 1994, ch. 775, § 10.

 

 

38-7-114.  [Repealed.]

 

 

38-7-115.  [Repealed.]

 

 

38-7-116.  [Repealed.]

 

 

38-7-117.  Subpoena of medical and hospital records.

(a) An authorized post-mortem official acting under the control or direction of the chief medical examiner or a county medical examiner or performing an investigation pursuant to a court order or an order of a district attorney general is authorized to obtain, upon written request, or may subpoena through the appropriate district attorney general, all medical or hospital records maintained by individuals licensed under title 63 or by facilities licensed under title 68 that pertain to a case under investigation.

(b) An authorized post-mortem official acting under the control or direction of the chief medical examiner or a county medical examiner or performing an investigation pursuant to a court order or an order of a district attorney general is authorized, through the appropriate district attorney general, to obtain, by judicial subpoena or through a court order in accordance with § 33-3-105, all records maintained by facilities licensed under title 33 that pertain to a case under investigation.

(c) As used in this section:

   (1) "Authorized post-mortem official" means:

      (A) The chief medical examiner;

      (B) A county medical examiner;

      (C) A medical investigator;

      (D) A coroner;

      (E) A deputy or assistant state medical examiner or forensic pathologist under the control or direction of the chief medical examiner; or

      (F) A deputy or assistant county medical examiner or forensic pathologist under the control or direction of a county medical examiner; and

   (2) "Case under investigation" means any time during which an authorized post-mortem official conducts an investigation into a case of death.

HISTORY: Acts 1994, ch. 775, § 15; 2014, ch. 944, § 2.

 

 

38-7-118.  Delivery of remains to family following autopsy.

  The body or remains of any dead human subject to an autopsy or pathology examination pursuant to this part shall be delivered to the next of kin as soon as practicable after the completion of the autopsy or pathology examination.

HISTORY: Acts 2004, ch. 643, § 1.

 

 

38-7-119.  Unauthorized video or audio recordings of autopsies.

(a)  (1) Except as provided in subsection (c), it is an offense for the chief medical examiner, a county medical examiner, or pathologist designated pursuant to § 38-7-105, or any agent or employee of the chief medical examiner, a county medical examiner, or pathologist, to contract with or grant authorization to an unauthorized person or an external entity to photograph, videotape, or otherwise capture visual images, or audio recordings in whatever form of a deceased human body, a human autopsy or a body immediately prior to, during or immediately following an autopsy.

   (2) No person shall distribute, publish or otherwise disseminate any autopsy photographs, videotape or other visual image or any autopsy audio recording without the written consent of the next of kin or personal representative in the order established pursuant to subdivision (c)(1)(A), unless such use is consistent with subdivision (c)(1)(B), (c)(1)(C) or (c)(1)(D).

(b) Nothing in this section shall prevent the chief medical examiner, a county medical examiner, or pathologist designated pursuant to § 38-7-105, or any agent or employee of the chief medical examiner, county medical examiner, or pathologist, from carrying out training efforts or such person's statutory responsibilities.

(c)  (1) A person is not considered "unauthorized" for purposes of subsection (a) if such person photographs, videotapes, or otherwise captures visual images, or audio recordings in whatever form of a deceased human body, human autopsy or a body immediately prior to, during or immediately following such an autopsy, if it is done with the express written consent or at the direction of:

      (A) The next-of-kin or personal representative of the deceased in the following order of priority:

         (i) Spouse;

         (ii) Any adult child;

         (iii) Parents;

         (iv) Any sibling; or

         (v) Administrator or executor, if appointed;

      (B) A law enforcement agency or district attorney general, for official use only;

      (C) A court order or subpoena; or

      (D) An attorney representing a defendant in a criminal case where the original photographs, images or records of the chief medical examiner, a county medical examiner, coroner or pathologist designated pursuant to § 38-7-105 are not available through discovery or are otherwise not sufficient for the defense of such defendant.

   (2) In determining whether the next-of-kin of the deceased is authorized to give consent, the chief medical examiner, county medical examiner, or pathologist designated pursuant to § 38-7-105 shall refer to the priority order in subdivision (c)(1)(A). If a next-of-kin higher on the priority lists consents, the lack of consent of any next-of-kin lower on the list is irrelevant. If a next-of-kin higher on the priority list refuses to give consent, consent by a next-of-kin lower on the list is also irrelevant.

(d) A chief medical examiner, a county medical examiner, or pathologist designated pursuant to § 38-7-105, or any agent or employee of a chief medical examiner, a county medical examiner, or pathologist, shall incur no criminal or civil liability for permitting a person to photograph, videotape, or otherwise capture visual images, or audio recordings in whatever form of a deceased human body or a human autopsy or a body immediately prior to, during or immediately following an autopsy as a result of the consent to such conduct given by the next-of-kin, if such official is presented with the written consent of a next-of-kin of the deceased who is higher on the priority list set out in subdivision (c)(1)(A) than any next-of-kin who does not consent.

(e) To the extent that the chief medical examiner, a county medical examiner, or pathologist designated pursuant to § 38-7-105, or any agent or employee of the chief medical examiner, county medical examiner, or pathologist, is a covered entity under the privacy regulations promulgated pursuant to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt any provisions of those regulations that provide greater protection of the deceased's privacy than does this section.

(f)  (1) A violation of subdivision (a)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by fine only.

   (2) A violation of subdivision (a)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment if the chief medical examiner, a county medical examiner, coroner or pathologist, or an agent or employee of the chief medical examiner, a county medical examiner, coroner or pathologist, receives compensation or other thing of value as an inducement to violate this section.

   (3) A violation of subdivision (a)(2) is a Class A misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 2005, ch. 216, § 1; 2009, ch. 276, §§ 1, 2.