Rather than creating more clarity about the circumstances surrounding the death of actor Matthew Perry, initial autopsy results have been inconclusive, only creating more questions about the actor’s sudden passing.
Actor Matthew Perry was found dead in the jacuzzi just outside his Los Angeles home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood on Saturday, just minutes after 4:00 p.m. local time. First responders arrived after dispatchers received a 911 call, though it isn’t clear who made the call. Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department said they have no grounds on which to suspect foul play, and no drugs were found at the scene, though some fans and friends suspect something just as sinister is to blame for the actor’s death.
Officers also stated that the Los Angeles County Coroner would perform an autopsy to determine the cause of Perry’s death.
On Sunday, investigators did find prescription medications in the home that included anti-anxiety drugs, as well as a medication usually given to patients with a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a disease often caused by smoking. But investigators were clear that there were no illicit drugs found in the home.
More Questions Than Answers
The preliminary autopsy report from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner showed that the examination was “inconclusive.” Then the report stated the findings were deemed “deferred,” which is another term meaning that the medical examiner could not conclusively determine the cause of Perry’s death.
Per the Medical Examiner’s and Coroner’s Handbook on Death Registration, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are various circumstances under which the medical examiner must list the cause of the death of a person as “deferred.”
“It is well known that a professional competent, searching autopsy and toxicological examination of the body fluids and organs, coupled with the best available bacteriologic, virologic, and immunologic studies, may fail to reveal the cause of death. If this is the case and if the investigation has been pursued as far as possible, then the medical examiner or coroner will have no recourse but to indicate in one form or another that the cause of death “could not be determined.”
One possible phrase is “cause of death not determined at autopsy.” This is better than the term “unknown” as it at least indicates the extent of the investigation undertaken.”
The handbook goes on to state that there are provisions made when the cause or manner of death cannot be immediately determined. A death certificate must still be completed as fully possible, and once the cause of death is determined, an additional report must be filed at a later time, and that report becomes part of the original death certificate filed.
In the case of Matthew Perry’s examination, the cause of death is pending the results of the toxicology report, which can determine whether drugs were in Perry’s system at the time of his death and, if so, whether the presence of any drugs led to his death in any way.
Matthew Perry is credited with roles in films and in various television series, but he’s best remembered for playing the role of Chandler Bing in the NBC sitcom Friends alongside actors David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, and Lisa Kudrow.
The investigation into Perry’s death on Saturday is still ongoing, and as this remains a developing story, more information will be shared as it is available.