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Ethics in clinical autopsy
  1. Massimo Rugge1,2,
  2. Diana Sacchi2,
  3. Sonia Cesaro2,
  4. Marta Sbaraglia2,
  5. Franco Locatelli3
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, Pathology and Cytopathology Unit, Università degli Studi di Padova, Padova, Veneto, Italy
  2. 2 Department of Medicine DIMED, Universita degli Studi di Padova, Padova, Veneto, Italy
  3. 3 Hemato-oncology, Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Lazio, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Professor Massimo Rugge, Department of Medicine, Pathology and Cytopsthology Unit, Università degli Studi di Padova, Padova, Veneto, Italy; massimo.rugge{at}


This manuscript concerns the ethical aspects of the clinical autopsy procedure. Much of the literature on this topic addresses some of the multifaceted issues potentially involved: religious beliefs and/or cultural traditions coming to bear on the management of autopsies, relations between families and healthcare personnel (physicians and technicians) involved in conducting an autopsy, ethical implications of regulations to follow and procedures for obtaining biological samples for further diagnostics or research. All these issues have ethical implications, particularly in today’s globalised cultural domain. To preserve for future generations the teaching and scientific value of the clinical autopsy, scientific societies and academic institutions should endorse educational efforts to promote the ethical management of autopsy procedures.

  • autopsy
  • ethics
  • pathology department
  • hospital

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  • Handling editor Dhirendra Govender.

  • Contributors The only contributors are the authors as listed. All authors contributed to the discussion of the manuscript. MR edited the manuscript. Some of the issues addressed in this manuscript had also been discussed in the Master’s thesis titled 'Autopsia Clinica: implicazioni etiche', by SC (September 2018).

  • Funding This work was partly supported by a grant from the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC Regional grant no 6421 to MR) and by the Italian Health Ministry’s research programme: 'Performance evaluation and value assessment for cardiovascular and oncological care path in a regional network context: challenges and opportunities' NET-2016-02363853.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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