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Mission Statement

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office Pathology Assistants will strive to insure accurate and reliable assistance to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, Deputy Coroners and Fellows in all phases of the autopsy. 

The pathology assistants will strive to ensure that each body autopsied at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office is treated with dignity and respect and prepared for the family’s funeral home in a professional and acceptable manner. 

Under the direction of the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, Deputy Coroners and Fellows, the Pathology Assistants will strive to provide the best possible assistance, now and in the future, so that the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner may determine the cause and manner of death.    

General Autopsy Procedures

Generally, an autopsy involves a detailed external physical examination of a body, which includes a description of visible injuries, followed by a detailed internal examination of a body.  The internal examination includes inspection of the organs, including their weights and any abnormalities seen, and the other soft tissues and bones and collection of body fluids.  Each organ is weighed; dissected and small samples are placed in a formalin fixative solution and stored for later examination as needed.  All other remaining organs are returned with the body.  Microscopic examination of tissues is performed on all autopsies and toxicology testing is performed on most autopsies.  All duties performed by the pathology assistant during the autopsy will be under the direct supervision of the pathologist.  

Job Description Of Pathology Assistant

  • Assist Pathologists in autopsy room activities.
  • Assist Pathologists in evisceration, as well as, any and all other aspects of the autopsy such as examination of the body, including locating and retrieving foreign bodies such as bullets.
  • Responsible for cleaning autopsy area.
  • Taking and processing x-rays, including maintaining x-rays, and keeping x-ray equipment in good condition.
  • Responsible for keeping all autopsy room equipment in working condition and readiness.
  • Ordering and keeping stock of autopsy room supplies.  


  •  Bachelors Degree including 2 years of college Biology with studies in Human Anatomy and Physiology or
  • Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer or
  • 3 years experience as a Forensic Autopsy Assistant in a Medical Examiners/Coroner’s Office with Forensic Pathologists.         

All funeral arrangements are done according to each family’s individual wishes through the funeral home of their choice.  No embalming or funeral arrangements are performed at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.  

Further information regarding embalming or funeral directors can be accessed at the following links: 

National Association of Medical Examiners

Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science

Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science

Board of Embalmers & Funeral Directors of Ohio

Ohio Embalmer’s Association               

National Funeral Director’s Association  

News Articles

On the job training with Chuck Yarborough, Plain Dealer Article: 'Cause of Death'