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The Coroner's Office and Public Record Law

The coroner's office is exempted from the usual standards of medical record confidentiality. When conducting a death investigation, the coroner may obtain any and all records pertaining to cause and manner of death including hospital, health care provider, and mental health records. These records do not lose their confidentiality by virtue of being in the coroner's possession and may not be released to other persons or agencies.
 
Public records laws in the state of Colorado specifically exempt the autopsy report from the confidentiality usually associated with law enforcement and medical records. Exceptions include reports of autopsies where the case is under active investigation or where the name of a victim of child or sexual abuse would be disclosed.
 
If in the coroner's judgment release of an autopsy report which does not meet these criteria would be contrary to the public interest, the coroner may petition the court to seal the record as was done until recently in the Columbine case.
 
To request a copy of an autopsy report, send a written request stating the name of the deceased, the date of death and the address to which the report should be sent to:
 
Janis Smith
La Plata County Coroner
1060 E. Second Avenue
Durango, CO 81301

Photo La Plata County scenery