Standards for the management of hospital post-mortem
A post-mortem examination is a medical
procedure carried out by pathologists to identify the cause and
mechanism of death. Post-mortem examinations may also provide
valuable information on the effectiveness of medical and/or
surgical treatments, and are of value to increasing medical
knowledge through clinical audit, research and education.
We have developed updated standards
for the management of hospital post-mortem
Purpose and scope
This document specifies a minimum set of performance standards
for the management of hospital post-mortem examinations and can be
used to reinforce national
consistency and drive
improvement within hospital post-mortem examinations
NHSScotland is committed to delivering the best clinical care,
including after the death of an individual and supporting people
who have been bereaved. These standards apply to NHS boards and
staff involved in hospital post-mortem examinations, including the
process for authorisation. This includes, but is not limited to,
pathologists, anatomical pathology technologists, mortuary
technicians, medical and nursing staff, staff involved in
transportation of the deceased, and staff involved with bereavement
care and support.
The standards cover the following areas:
- authorisation process
- dignity and respect for the deceased and people who have been
- pathology examination and reporting
- removal, retention, storage, handling, transportation and
disposal of the body, embryos, fetuses, tissue blocks, glass slides
or organs, and
- education and training.
The sections below will give you an overview
of each of the 6 standards we have developed in relation
to the management of hospital post-mortem
examinations. Detailed information including the
rationale and criteria for each standard can be found by
downloading the full publication.
Standard 1: Governance
Each NHS board has a governance structure in place for the safe,
effective and person-centred management of hospital post-mortem
examinations and reporting.
Standard 2: Authorisation process
Authorisation is obtained for all hospital post-mortem examinations
in line with legislation and national guidance.
Standard 3: Support for people who have been bereaved
The deceased and people who have been bereaved are treated with
dignity and respect, and in accordance with their wishes.
Standard 4: Pathology examination and reporting
Hospital post-mortem examination and reporting takes place in line
with legislation and national and professional guidance.
Standard 5: Removal, storage, handling, transportation and disposal
Each NHS board has processes in place for the removal, storage,
handling, transportation and disposal of the body, embryos,
fetuses, tissue blocks, glass slides or organs.
Standard 6: Education and training
Each NHS board ensures staff have the knowledge, skills and
experience to deliver a safe, effective and person-centred
post-mortem examination service.
Published Date: 30 June 2016