The autopsy is a scientific investigation requiring a high level of knowledge and skill to gain the maximum useful information.
Autopsies should only be performed by a specialist pathologist or by a person qualified as a registered medical practitioner under the supervision of a specialist pathologist. The same arrangements should apply to coronial autopsies but in some states the Coroner can request any registered medical practitioner to undertake an autopsy under coronial jurisdiction.
Prior to commencing an autopsy, the medical practitioner designated to undertake the autopsy or to supervise the performance of an autopsy should ensure that appropriate authorisation has been given for a coronial or non-coronial autopsy and that there is clearly documented information concerning any limitations placed on the autopsy to defined regions of the body and recording the wishes of the next-of- kin regarding the tissues and organs which may be retained for diagnosis, research or education.
The performance of the autopsy must be in accordance with the AHMAC National Code of Ethical Autopsy Practice approved by the Australian Government Minister for Health and Ageing.
9.2 Extent of the Autopsy
The specialist pathologist responsible for undertaking or supervising the hospital autopsy procedure shall be responsible for ensuring absolute compliance with any limitations on the extent of the autopsy specified by the family member giving consent and with strict observance of the family’s decisions on the retention and disposal of organs and tissues.