What is an Autopsy?

An autopsy, also known as a post-mortem examination, is a specialized surgical procedure used to determine the cause and manner of death. The cause of death is the medical reason explaining why a patient passed. The manner of death is the circumstances surrounding the death. Connecticut recognizes the following manners of death: natural, accident, homicide, suicide, and unknown. Only deaths due to natural causes are examined at Yale New Haven Hospital. All other manners of death are referred to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) for further investigation.

Autopsies continually advance our understanding of disease. What we learn from autopsies allows clinicians to better understand disease processes, accurately diagnose diseases, improve therapy, and potentially aid other patients who are currently suffering from a similar disease. There are many reasons why families choose to pursue having an autopsy done. Consent for an autopsy at Yale includes diagnostic, education, quality improvement, and research.