• autopsy;
  • nurses;
  • questionnaires;
  • United Kingdom

Attitudes of nursing staff to the autopsy

We assessed the views of hospital nurses on the autopsy, using a questionnaire which was distributed by hand to all qualified nurses working at Manchester Royal Infirmary during a 48-h period. We found that many respondents (43%) had had occasion to discuss autopsy with relatives, and the majority (90%) would like to learn more about counselling the bereaved. Few (15%) clearly understood the legal distinction between coroners’ and hospital autopsies. Almost all (97%) thought the main reason for autopsy was determination of the cause of death, and only 12% supported a role in clinical audit. More respondents saw benefits for doctors rather than for nurses, and only 56% perceived a benefit for relatives. In general, nursing staff have a more positive view of the autopsy than we anticipated, and we would advocate making more information about the benefits of autopsy available to nurses.