Manner and cause of death are deferred pending additional investigation.
This is often because the deputy medical examiner has ordered a toxicological panel to be done. It may take anywhere from a few weeks to many months for the results of the tox screening to come back from the lab.
Los Angeles County’s Department of Medical Examiner currently has a backlog that will need about four to eight months to clear. (We have a case from February 2023 that is still in deferred status as of January 2024.)
A body is declared ready for release to a funeral home after necessary samples of blood, urine, saliva, and/or tissue have been obtained for further testing. Toxicology specimens may include heart blood, femoral blood, stomach contents, vitreous fluid, bile, and urine.
Toxicology requests can be for alcohol only, carbon monoxide, or a specific drug (marijuana) or tissue.