Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

Post mortem examinations

When someone dies it can be a distressing and confusing time for family members. In some circumstances, a post-mortem examination may be required or requested. This is an examination of a body after death and during this examination; organs and tissue samples may need to be removed for investigation. After the post mortem-examination decisions will need to be made about what should happen to the removed organs and tissue samples.

This information has been provided to support those who are bereaved and are affected by a post-mortem examination. It may also be useful for professionals who work with the bereaved or seek consent for post-mortem examinations. If a post-mortem examination is required or requested then a discussion should take place between you and a professional from the hospital or the coroner’s service.

This discussion should cover what you can expect; what will happen; and what your rights are. It should also provide you with information to help you make decisions about what happens to organs and tissue samples that may need to be removed for investigation. During a difficult time, you may wish to take this information away with you to read in your own time and to refer back to during or after your discussions. This information takes the form of questions and answers and can be used in full or in part, as required. It applies in England and Wales. It does not apply in Northern Ireland or in Scotland. See Further information and support section for more details.

Further FAQs about adult post mortem examinations can be found here

Download a leaflet about post mortem examination that contains this information and more here


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Last updated on: 22 May 2019