Receiving autopsy reports

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There are two autopsy reports which are sent to the referring clinician and any other requested clinicians. 

Preliminary report

Within two days of the autopsy being completed 

The preliminary report provides an initial indication of significant findings at autopsy. It is important to note that this preliminary report is based on the macroscopic findings alone and the diagnoses may be modified in the final autopsy report on the basis of the information from all autopsy investigations.

Final report 

Usually completed between 8-10 weeks after the date of autopsy

The final report will be the comprehensive report of the findings at autopsy. It is important to confirm that the report is ready prior to the follow-up appointment. If the report has not been received, please call the VPAS laboratory where the autopsy was performed to check on when it will be available. Sometimes there may be delays in finalising autopsy reports due to specialised testing. If there are delays beyond the usual turnaround times, the responsible pathologist may be able to provide an updated timeline to assist in planning for the follow up meeting with the family.

Where the report is sent

The report is sent to the doctor who completed the autopsy consent at the institution or address where the perinatal death occurred and any other requested clinicians. Contact details should be legibly written on the documents. Sending reports is often difficult for the laboratories as frequently there are incomplete or unclear contact details. 

Please ensure you request a copy of the report for the doctor who will be providing the family with their post bereavement appointment, to ensure that the report arrives in a timely fashion.

Other autopsy report recipients

  1. Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity (CCOPMM)

Consistent with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, each VPAS Laboratory will send copies of all perinatal autopsy reports to the Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity (CCOPMM).

  1. Perinatal autopsies performed on behalf of the Coroner / VIFM

Autopsy reports that have been conducted by or for the coroner will need Coronial authorisation before release to clinicians meeting with families.

For cases that may involve the coroner, expert advice can be obtained from the Coronial Admissions and Enquiries (CA&E) 24 hour office on 1300 309 519 (toll free) or 03 8688 0700.

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