Views & Reviews Personal View

Autopsies—why families count too

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c902 (Published 24 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c902

As a veterinary surgeon I am expected to communicate effectively with clients at all times when dealing with their pets and to be accountable to my clients for my actions. Informed consent is paramount in the way we operate. I was therefore horrified that there was no effective communication between doctors and myself when my partner died. Apart from notification of his death, I was faced with a wall of silence from the time of my partner’s collapse to the reading of the postmortem report.

Nine months ago my partner collapsed at work and was subsequently pronounced dead at the local hospital. My request to accompany him in the ambulance to the hospital was turned down. I was given no information when I arrived at the hospital and was ushered into a side room to be sympathetically conveyed the news that he had died. I was told that a postmortem examination would be needed. Although …

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