Personal Views

Families need more information about postmortem examinations

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 09 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1121

My father died last January from disseminated histoplasmosis while receiving immunosuppressive treatment for large vessel polyarteritis nodosa—a rare complication of the treatment for a rare disorder. His death and the events leading up to it have taught me many things about myself and have also graphically demonstrated the harsh realities of today's struggling health services. However, I still cannot understand or rationalise the distressing sequence of events that followed his death.

I now realise how important it is to offer relatives of the deceased easy and appropriate lines of communication

Doctors can be insulated from the feelings and peripheral experiences of patients' families

Given the unusual nature of my father's illness, I had expected a request to be made for a hospital postmortem examination. When I first telephoned the hospital's general office to ask when I could collect the death certificate I was told that I would have to wait …

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