VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System
It is VA policy that an autopsy be requested from the next-of-kin for all deaths in the Medical Center. It is the responsibility of the physician alone to secure autopsies at the time of death of a patient for whom he/she is responsible. After asking the next-of-kin for the autopsy, the request and decision regarding performance of the autopsy must be recorded in the progress notes of the deceased patient’s medical record. Administrative personnel will not obtain permission from the next-of-kin for post-mortem examinations under any circumstances. Forms for obtaining consent are maintained by ward clerk personnel. If the family requests that they be informed of the results of the autopsy or if promised that they will receive a report of the findings, it becomes the physician’s responsibility to personally provide the information either by telephone or by a letter, working with the Release of Information Clerk. Autopsy results are not required to be included in death summaries which should be performed promptly.
For further information on autopsies, refer to Health Care System Policy COS-017 “Indications for Post-Mortem Examination.”