A couple of loyal readers emailed me to ask what death by "natural causes" means. In the last three weeks we've read about two high profile deaths attributed to natural causes: actress Brittany Murphy and heiress Casey Johnson, who was found dead in LA yesterday morning.
Death by natural causes simply means the deceased had a preexisting condition (disease, long term illness, etc.) that caused the death. Natural causes also applies if the coroner can't find a cause of death and there is no evidence of foul play or homicide.
Hospitals are known to cover up medical negligence cases by attributing a patient's death to natural causes. The patient's death is by natural causes, therefore, there is usually no autopsy performed. It's left up to the patient's family to demand an autopsy if there is any hint that negligence was involved.
In Brittany Murphy's case, she was diagnosed with type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes and was reportedly very sick (nausea and vomiting) for days before she collapsed and died of cardiac arrest. It's very likely that her cardiac arrest was brought on by severe dehydration from vomiting.