HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE


TITLE 8. DEATH AND DISPOSITION OF THE BODY


SUBTITLE A. DEATH


CHAPTER 671. DETERMINATION OF DEATH AND AUTOPSY REPORTS


SUBCHAPTER A. DETERMINATION OF DEATH


Sec. 671.001. STANDARD USED IN DETERMINING DEATH. (a) A person is dead when, according to ordinary standards of medical practice, there is irreversible cessation of the person's spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions.

(b) If artificial means of support preclude a determination that a person's spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions have ceased, the person is dead when, in the announced opinion of a physician, according to ordinary standards of medical practice, there is irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function. Death occurs when the relevant functions cease.

(c) Death must be pronounced before artificial means of supporting a person's respiratory and circulatory functions are terminated.

(d) A registered nurse or physician assistant may determine and pronounce a person dead in situations other than those described by Subsection (b) if permitted by written policies of a licensed health care facility, institution, or entity providing services to that person. Those policies must include physician assistants who are credentialed or otherwise permitted to practice at the facility, institution, or entity. If the facility, institution, or entity has an organized nursing staff and an organized medical staff or medical consultant, the nursing staff and medical staff or consultant shall jointly develop and approve those policies. The board shall adopt rules to govern policies for facilities, institutions, or entities that do not have organized nursing staffs and organized medical staffs or medical consultants.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 201, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 965, Sec. 8, eff. June 16, 1995.

Sec. 671.002. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. (a) A physician who determines death in accordance with Section 671.001(b) or a registered nurse or physician assistant who determines death in accordance with Section 671.001(d) is not liable for civil damages or subject to criminal prosecution for the physician's, registered nurse's, or physician assistant's actions or the actions of others based on the determination of death.

(b) A person who acts in good faith in reliance on a physician's, registered nurse's, or physician assistant's determination of death is not liable for civil damages or subject to criminal prosecution for the person's actions.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 201, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 965, Sec. 9, eff. June 16, 1995.

SUBCHAPTER B. AUTOPSY REPORTS


Sec. 671.011. DEFINITION. (a) In this subchapter, "autopsy report" includes:

(1) the report of the postmortem examination of the body of a person, including x-rays and photographs taken during the actual postmortem examination; and

(2) the toxicology report, if any, and other reports that involve an examination of the internal organs and structures of the body after dissection.

(b) An autopsy report does not include investigative reports and other documents that the physician performing the autopsy may review to assist in determining the cause of death.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 607, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Sec. 671.012. FILING AUTOPSY REPORT. A designated physician who performs an autopsy provided for by state law shall file an autopsy report with the office designated by the autopsy order not later than the 30th day after the date of request for the autopsy unless:

(1) a required test cannot be completed within that time; and

(2) the physician certifies when the autopsy report is filed that a required test could not be completed within the 30-day limit.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Renumbered from Health & Safety Code Sec. 671.011 by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 607, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Sec. 671.013. RELEASE OF REPORTS; FEES. (a) An autopsy report shall be released on request to an authorized person in connection with the determination of the cause of death in relation to a workers' compensation or insurance claim.

(b) A person who receives information under Subsection (a) may disclose the information to others only to the extent consistent with the authorized purposes for which the information was obtained.

(c) The commissioners court of the county having custody of an autopsy report shall establish a fee to be charged for a copy of the autopsy report as follows:

(1) for written portions of the report, an amount reasonably necessary to recover the cost of providing the copy, not to exceed $25; and

(2) for x-rays and photographs, the actual cost of reproduction, including the reasonable cost of overhead.

(d) Except as provided by Subsection (e), an autopsy report released in connection with the determination of the cause of death in relation to a workers' compensation claim under Subsection (a) shall be released not later than the 15th business day after the date the request is received from the authorized person.

(e) If the report has not been filed as provided by Section 671.012, a representative of the office designated by the autopsy order shall, not later than the 10th business day after the date of the request, notify the requesting person that the report has not been filed and of the date, to the best of the knowledge of the representative, that the requesting person may anticipate receiving the report.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Renumbered from Health & Safety Code Sec. 671.012 and amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 607, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1190 (H.B. 251), Sec. 2, eff. June 18, 2005.