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Analysis of necropsy request behaviour of clinicians.
  1. R D Start,
  2. S G Brain,
  3. T A McCulloch,
  4. C A Angel
  1. Department of Pathology, Sheffield University.


    AIM: To develop a necropsy related audit system to record accurate information in relation to necropsy requests, necropsy rates and coronial referrals. METHODS: A simple audit form was used to record detailed necropsy related data via an integrated questionnaire design and data entry system based on available optical image scanning technology. The system recorded the numbers and locations of deaths, referrals to the coroner, clinical necropsy requests, hospital and medicolegal necropsies, the grade of clinician involved in these processes, and the identity of the consultant in charge of the case. The overall, hospital and medicolegal necropsy rates were calculated by individual consultant, specialty and for the whole hospital. Necropsy request rates and coronial referral rates were also calculated and these data were related to the grade of clinician. All data were available on a monthly or an accumulative basis. RESULTS: Of 1398 deaths, 534 (38%) were discussed with the local coroner's office and 167 of these were accepted for further investigation. House officers and senior house officers referred over 80% of all cases, whereas consultants referred only 2%. There were no significant differences in case acceptance rates by grade of clinician. Clinicians made 307 hospital necropsy requests (overall hospital necropsy request rate 22%). House officers made 65% of all necropsy requests. Consultant necropsy requests represented 13% of all requests. There were no significant differences in necropsy request success rates by grade of clinician. CONCLUSIONS: The referral of cases to coroners and clinical necropsy requests are still being inappropriately delegated to the most junior clinicians. This study illustrates the type of useful information which can be produced for individual clinicians, specialty audit groups and pathology departments using a simple necropsy related audit system.

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