Division of Autopsy Pathology

The Autopsy Pathology Division performs approximately 400 autopsies a year to determine the cause of death, confirm clinical diagnoses, evaluate the effects of therapy, and study disease processes. In addition to examining consented patients who die within Johns Hopkins hospitals, we also can perform private autopsies at the request of family members, physicians, or researchers. Johns Hopkins also has a program for rapid autopsy of patients wishing to donate postmortem organs and tissues for research called the Legacy Gift Rapid Autopsy program.


Experience

The Autopsy Service has performed more than 56,000 autopsies since it was established in 1889. Our service provides education for clinicians and comfort for families seeking to establish or confirm cause of death and to resolve questions about treatment or hereditary disease.

Autopsies are performed by house officers and autopsy assistants under close supervision of physician assistants and attending physicians. For unusual or complex cases, the expertise and resources of Johns Hopkins are available to us for specialized consultation.

All requests for performance of an outside autopsy must be reviewed and accepted by JHH. Some cases that are typically not accepted include: cases requiring toxicological studies; cases requested specifically for medicolegal purposes, and cases in which it has been more than 72 hours since the patient has passed.

We maintain records and slides of every autopsy performed by the service, which are available to investigators for review. During the more than 100 years since the service began, this information has been used in hundreds of studies, especially those related to the investigation of the development of disease.