Types of Autopsy

In 1991, the General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed the MODEL Autopsy Protocol of United Nations. Although the methods, procedures and technologies of autopsy varies from land to land, the motive has always remained the same – to administer justice by investigation of dead body.

There are mainly two types of autopsies:

1. Pathological or Hospital autopsy

In this type, after obtaining consent from the relatives, medical personnel perform an examination with the aim of answering questions regarding the extent of disease, its significance and to understand the nature of disease proper, for research and academic purposes. In many countries and jurisdiction, this type of autopsy is not held with a belief that if the disease remains unknown to the attending physician, a medico-legal autopsy should be performed.

2. Medico-Legal or Forensic Autopsy:

This type of autopsy is performed at the request of legal authorities, who are responsible for investigation of sudden, suspicious and unnatural deaths. The legal authority in Nepal is routinely Nepal Police. The consent of the relatives is not required in medico-legal autopsies. In many jurisdictions, the medico-legal autopsy is often further subdivided into: those held on apparently non-criminal deaths, such as accidents, suicides, deaths from sudden natural causes, or associated with medical and surgical treatment, industrial deaths, and so on and the truly forensic autopsy, those held on suspicious or frankly criminal deaths, usually at the investigation of the police. The type of pathologist that deals with these categories also varies from place to place but, as the systems are so diverse, there is little point in discussing the details. What is much more important is that whichever pathologist tackles each type of case; he or she should be trained and experienced in that particular field.