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For autopsy service, new requirements in AP checklist plus nine new requirements for forensic autopsies

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To help pathologists improve the quality and consistency of forensic autopsies performed in hospitals, members of the CAP Council on Accreditation had directed the Checklists Committee to delineate what is required in the autopsy section of the AP checklist. To do so, members of the Checklists and Forensic Pathology committees came together in a workgroup and, armed with a National Association of Medical Examiners guideline, identified which forensic requirements needed to be in the CAP checklist.

“We found there were items applicable to forensic autopsy that also benefited general autopsy, so we welcomed the Autopsy Committee into the workgroup,” Dr. West explains. When the members began to look at the needs of both types of autopsies, he says, “it became clear they must be aligned. Dr. Hooper was helpful in guiding that alignment.”

It was Dr. Hooper, too, who made the case for a separate forensic autopsy section in the AP checklist. “There are requirements of a genuinely forensic nature that are not necessary for general hospital autopsies, which already have vigorous requirements,” she says. “We didn’t want to impose burdensome forensic-level requirements on all hospitals and risk having a hospital say, ‘We just won’t offer autopsies anymore.’

“We were sensitive to the fact that autopsies are already an endangered species,” she continues, “and we needed to find that sweet spot with the checklists. So when the workgroup brought their draft requirements to the Autopsy Committee, we decided to put forensic requirements into their own section.”

Valerie Neff Newitt is a writer in Audubon, Pa.

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