The basic premise of the autopsy is to provide more definitive information regarding natural diseases, treatment, trauma, and/or cause of death to provide beneficial information to clinicians, families, coroners, law enforcement, and those interested in the biology of disease. Furthermore, exposure to forensic autopsies will introduce residents to medicolegal death investigation. Gaining knowledge from the autopsy is maximized when specific questions are asked, and proper steps are taken to address those questions (special dissections, ancillary tests, etc). Developing one's ability to assess which tissues should be sampled, to what extent, and for what tests or assays is an important objective. It is the responsibility of the entire autopsy pathology staff including the faculty, residents and autopsy assistants to follow this general principle. Oversight of dissections of tissues and organs and of the ultimate final reports should be viewed as an essential positive ingredient in internal and, ultimately, external quality control.
The residents will assume graduated responsibility during their autopsy experience. Residents in their first autopsy block will primarily focus on medical autopsies and atraumatic forensic autopsies while developing their technical skills and understanding of death certification. Residents in their second autopsy block will be expected to help teach the less experienced residents while also performing their own autopsies, which should be of greater complexity and variety than during the first block. By the end of the second rotation the resident should be able to complete more than one autopsy per day and be able to prosect an autopsy without aid from an autopsy technician. All resident autopsies will be performed under the direct supervision of a staff pathologist.
Additionally, residents on the autopsy service will also be responsible for neuropathology specimens from surgical pathology. The resident will be responsible for previewing and signing out the daily neuropathology specimens before or after their autopsy responsibilities are completed. Residents are also expected to attend the weekly brain tumor board and brain cutting sessions.