beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

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Autopsy Pathology

Determines Cause and Manner of Death

The Autopsy Service helps to determine cause and manner of death. We perform ~150 postmortem examinations per year representing ~20% of the deaths at the Hospital.

Teaching Tools for Residents and Medical Students

Cases serve as teaching tools for residents and medical students to enhance the understanding of human disease and promote communication between subspecialties.

Accurate Death Statistics, Clinical Diagnosis and Patient Care

Autopsies provide a basis for accurate death statistics and assess the accuracy of clinical diagnosis and quality of care (reviewed in Cameron et al., Br Med J 281:955, 1980; Goldman et al., N Engl J Med 308:1000, 1983; Landefeld et al., N Engl J Med 318:1249, 1988). 

Autopsy Service Coverage

Postmortem examinations are performed Monday through Sunday between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.  Limited autopsies (brain only) may be started later. 

For Instructions, Call 617-667-5759

Autopsies are encouraged on BIDMC patients in Hospice or nursing care facilities.  For instructions, please contact the Pathology Department at 617-667-5759.

Answers to Common Questions About Autopsy

When someone dies, doctors may ask the family for permission to perform an autopsy. For many families, it is difficult to face this decision during a time of loss and grief. Sometimes, families are not sure why the autopsy is needed, or they have questions about what will happen during the procedure. Families may be concerned about how the procedure might affect funeral arrangements or cultural traditions. To read the answer to some of the common questions that arise about autopsy, click here.

Contact Information

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215