Location: 509 Clinical Science Building
Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm Mon Ė Fri; Closed weekends
Office: (409) 772-2859
Morgue: (409) 772-2810
Our Mission and Goals
- To perform autopsies on UTMB hospital patients, and TDCJ inmates as dictated by state law and family wishes;
- To determine cause of death, describe response to treatment, and identify clinically occult diseases that may contribute to morbidity or mortality;
- To provide feedback of autopsy findings to clinicians by way of written reports and conference presentations;
- To monitor and report quality improvement and risk management issues;
- To train and educate health care professionals at all levels;
- To support clinical and basic science research by providing discarded autopsy material to IRB-approved investigators studying human diseases;
- To coordinate and complete disposition of decedents.
Specialties Services ProvidedPathology services offered by the Autopsy Service include
General Pathology(general adult pathology with specialized study of different organ systems gastrointestinal, kidney, lung, heart, etc.) Pathology provides a scientific foundation for clinical medicine, basic sciences and patient care. Pathology is the study of disease; it deals with all aspects of disease including structural and functional changes during the disease process, and the underlying causes and mechanisms of disease.
Pediatric Pathologystillborn or newborn infants, children under the age of 18) Pathologists experienced in perinatal pathology perform pediatric autopsies. This includes fetuses, newborns and children. The placenta, fetal membranes and umbilical cord are studied in all autopsies.
Neuropathology(brain, spinal cord and nervous system). Neuropathology determines all pathologic findings involving the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and muscle. The Neuropathology faculty examines brains and spinal cords from all complete autopsies performed.
Forensic PathologyUTMB Autopsy Service pathologists have experience in certain forensic (Medicolegal cases. Our faculty members have been appointed Deputy Medical Examiners in Galveston County, and we have a close working relationship with the Galveston County Medical Examiners (GCMEO). When needed, consultation will be obtained from forensic pathologists as GCMEO.
Clinical Laboratory ServicesComplete or limited autopsy includes certain in-house laboratory tests that are routinely performed at UTMB, when judged medically necessary by the pathologist. Included are tests for bacterial or viral infection, tumor markers, diabetes or other abnormalities of blood chemistry, or toxicology. Several tests, such as asbestos testing, or molecular genetic testing, are not routinely included.
Criteria for Requesting an AutopsyIt is UTMB policy that an autopsy is requested on all non-medicolegal inpatient deaths IHOP 9.15.2. Instances in which autopsy might be particularly important are listed below:
- To explain unknown & unanticipated medical complications
- When the cause of death or major diagnosis is unknown
- To provide reassurance to the family
- Deaths during or following medical/surgical procedures
- Death of patients participating in clinical trials
- Unexpected/unexplained deaths which appear to be from natural causes
- Natural deaths when medicolegal jurisdiction has been waived (DOA; Less 24 hour admits)
- Deaths resulting from high-risk infectious and contagious disease
- All obstetric deaths w All peri-natal and pediatric deaths
- To disclose a known or suspected illness which may affect survivors, or organ transplant recipients (e.g. hepatitis, AIDS, TB)
Uses of the Autopsy Report
Communication of autopsy findings to clinicians and families.Provisional and final autopsy reports are sent to clinicians involved in the decedentís care. It is expected that physicians will communicate these results to family members. Autopsy staff is available for presenting cases at Morbidity and Mortality or other conferences.
Mortality and Autopsy RatesData is collected monthly for each clinical service:
- Data is used to identify opportunities for improvement in individual departmentís autopsy rate, and to fulfill accreditation requirements for residency programs.
- Data is submitted monthly to the Hospitalís Quality Management Department and included for review with other institutional data during the monthly Hospital Quality of Care Committee.