D I V I S I O N  O F  N E U R O P A T H O L O G Y

U n i v e r s i t y  o f  P i t t s b u r g h  S c h o o l  o f  M e d i c i n e

D e p a r t m e n t  o f  P a t h o l o g y


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It is the policy of the Department of Pathology to provide an autopsy for the physician and family of any patient previously seen by a member of the staff of CHP, irrespective of where they die.

  1. The original call regarding the autopsy must be routed to the pathologist on autopsy call or the staff person covering. There should be no discussion with office staff or residents who may be unfamiliar with CHP policies.
  2. The staff Pathologist will ascertain that the case qualifies under the above criterion. If not, the call must be forwarded to the Pathologist-In-Chief.
  3. Outside autopsies are handled like in-house autopsies in all respects. The patient will, by definition, have a Children’s Hospital medical record number.
  4. The clinician requesting the autopsy needs to be aware of the following:
    1. An autopsy can only be done if the coroner has declined jurisdiction.
    2. The funeral home selected by the family will deliver the body to Children’s and pick it up after the autopsy, at the family’s request. The Funeral Director is to coordinate the timing with the staff pathologist. If the death is in Allegheny County, there should be no extra charge, or only a minimal charge to the family by the funeral home, according to the Allegheny County Funeral Directors Association. If the death is outside Allegheny County, the requesting clinician may need to make arrangements to pay for transport.
    3. It is the responsibility of the requesting clinician’s department to ensure that the patient is registered.
    4. It is the responsibility of the clinician or clinical service requesting the autopsy to complete the appropriate forms that are found in the death packet that includes a death certificate, autopsy consent form, patient release and notice of death forms, and patient identification tags and that the visit financial number and medical record number are included on all forms. The autopsy consent form should be signed by both parents. Phone permission is acceptable and must be witnessed. The permit must indicate the restrictions, and if none, must so indicate. It is the duty of the attending physician or clinical service to obtain the permit and the above forms, deliver them to the Department of Pathology in order for the autopsy to proceed.
    5. The clinician must provide Pathology with enough clinical history so that the autopsy can take into account the major clinical questions. Information regarding the circumstances of death are especially pertinent.
    6. The clinician is responsible for ensuring that a completed death certificate accompanies the body or is available by the completion of the autopsy.
    7. The clinician should make no assurances to the family or Funeral Director concerning the time of completion of the autopsy. This should be handled between the staff pathologist and Funeral Director directly, or through the Administrator-on-Duty.


Original: 9/12/99
Revised: 8/12/99
Revised: 12/02/02