Guidelines for the facilities and operation of hospital and forensic mortuaries

10. Reports on autopsy findings

Page last updated: 2004

    10.1 Timing and Copies of Reports

    For hospital autopsies, the specialist pathologist performing the autopsy or supervising the performance of the autopsy by another medical officer shall be responsible for issuing a preliminary report on the autopsy findings no later than two working days after the autopsy and shall provide a final or comprehensive report within four weeks after the autopsy. If detailed examination of the brain is undertaken, a supplementary report on the brain should be issued when the investigations have been completed but this normally should occur within eight weeks after the autopsy. Supplementary reports on other specialised investigations (genetics, toxicology, etc) should normally be issued within twelve weeks after the autopsy.
    Copies of all reports on a hospital autopsy shall be provided to the consultant clinician who had responsibility for the care of the deceased during their final admission and to the general practitioner who normally cared for the deceased. Copies of the reports and/or a lay summary may be provided to the senior next of kin of the deceased on request. Such requests should be submitted through the clinician responsible for the care of the deceased or through the deceased’s general practitioner. Relatives should be advised that it may be necessary to discuss the autopsy findings with an appropriate medical advisor.
    For a coronial autopsy, the pathologist’s report should be provided to the Coroner and to other agencies and persons in accordance with relevant laws and standards.

    10.2 Report Content and Interpretation

    Reports describing the autopsy findings from a hospital autopsy should include relevant correlations with clinical findings. The format of reports on coronial autopsies should be in keeping with the relevant standards and the requirements of the Coroner.