Autopsy: Medicolegal Considerations, Including Organ Retention and Handling

S. Cordner, H. McKelvie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEncyclopaedia / Dictionary EntryOtherpeer-review


Although this is a chapter on the medicolegal aspects of the autopsy, the starting point is ethical: The autopsy is a procedure of considerable ethical significance because it interferes with the body. This significance means that the autopsy should not be undertaken for insignificant reasons or purposes. There are substantial potential benefits to the autopsy, within ethical, legal, and resource constraints, and if an autopsy is to be performed, these should be maximized. These are discussed, along with the role of the pathologist: to whom she/he owes a duty, and what is the content of this duty? Managing the mortuary, and issues around the removal and retention of organs and tissues for diagnostic purposes are canvassed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine
EditorsJason Payne-James, Roger W. Byard
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780128000557
ISBN (Print)9780128000342
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Autopsy
  • Benefits
  • Diagnostic purposes
  • Ethical significance
  • Importance of
  • Managing the mortuary
  • Medicolegal aspects
  • Pathologist's duties
  • Purpose of autopsies
  • Retention of organs and tissues

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