Adult post mortems

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Requests for post mortems should be made through the Bereavement Office:

Bereavement Office 2360
Zoe Crane
Adult Bereavement manager zoe.crane@mft.nhs.uk
2028
Bereavement office fax 2665

Please be clear as to whether you wish to request a hospital (consent) post mortem, or you need to refer a death to the coroner. The Coroner has indicated that he would like all deaths associated with a hospital acquired infection reported to him: it would be appropriate for the reporting doctor to advise whether the deceased died with the infection or of the infection, or that this is uncertain.

Please do not make promises to relatives that a post mortem will be done the next day. Post mortems are performed in a timely fashion but there are multiple factors determining when they are done. Refer the relatives to the bereavement office for this information.

The consent form for a hospital post mortem is extensive but logical. You need to familiarize yourself with it before meeting with the next of kin.

In the event of the coroner ordering a post mortem examination, no consent from the next of kin is required. However, the coroner’s view of the information that is required from the post mortem is likely to be narrower than that of a clinician. For example, the coroner will be satisfied with a diagnosis of “carcinomatosis”, where a clinician will want to know the tumour type and the site of the primary. Once the pathologist is able to give a cause of death to the satisfaction of the coroner, there is no authority for further investigation. In particular, the coroner has no authority to allow tissue to be taken for histology, once a natural cause of death has been given. In order to satisfy the needs of medical audit and education, it is necessary to obtain consent from the next of kin for investigations over and above those authorised by the coroner. For this purpose, you need to ask the next of kin to complete the consent form. Annotate it to indicate that this consent is being taken to supplement a coroner’s post mortem.

For hospital post mortem examinations, not under the authorisation of the coroner, consent must be sought from the person in the highest ranking qualifying relationship as per the Human Tissue Act. A member of the Consultant body who undertakes autopsies or the bereavement manager should be present when consent is taken to ensure that this is taken in line with the Human Tissue Act.

The coroner has restricted the release of post mortem findings to clinicians. If you want to know about a post mortem, permission needs to be obtained from the coroner. Phone: 0161 219 2222, Fax: 0161 274 7329, coroners@manchester.gov.uk.

Information relating to the Manchester coroner is available at www.manchester.gov.uk/coroners

The Wythenshawe Site holds a license from the Human Tissue Authority for the storage of bodies, the making of a post-mortem examination and the removal of tissues at post mortem: we are listed at the HTA web site under Wythenshawe Hospital. There is extensive advice from the Human Tissue Authority at www.hta.gov.uk/guidance/codes_of_practice.cfm

Human Tissue Authority Designated Individual: Dr Nisha Ali, Consultant Histopathologist – 0161 291 5663/4812 Nisha.Ali@mft.nhs.uk

 

(Last reviewed June 2021)