[PDF] Guidelines on autopsy practice: postoperative deaths

Royal College of Pathologists - RCPATH
Royal College of Pathologists
Publication date:
01 May 2019


Individuals undergoing surgical interventions may die during the intervention (intraoperative deaths) or in the postoperative period (following transfer from the post-anaesthesia care unit to an intensive care unit or general ward). Deaths relating to the operation may occur as a result of issues quite some time after surgery. Death may be due to the disease for which the operation was performed, a complication of the operation and/or its anaesthetic, or an unrelated factor. The subsequent autopsies will vary in their complexity and a thorough systematic approach is required. Although the pathologist performing the autopsy should come to their own conclusions, it may be helpful, with the permission of the coroner, to invite the operative surgeon and/or other clinicians involved in the care of the patient to attend the autopsy.