Unexpected Patient Death Necropsy

Last Updated: 3/22/2022

Purpose/ Applicability: The purpose of this SOP is to facilitate a necropsy examination of patients from the veterinary teaching hospital that die unexpectedly during the weekend.

Scope: The scope of the necropsy examination is to determine if the death of the patient resulted from an unexpected consequence of treatment, a mistake during treatment, or a cause unrelated to the treatment.

Definition(s): For the purpose of this SOP, unexpected death is death of a patient that was not anticipated considering its major disease process, presentation for assessment or therapy, or treatment that the patient had been given during its stay in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.


  1. When an unexpected death has occurred, the clinician who was in-charge of providing care to the patient should notify the VTH director about the event and complete an incident report form.
  2. Then the clinician will offer to the owner of the deceased patient to perform a necropsy on the patient without any cost to the owner and will ascertain how the owner wants to dispose of the remains of the patient following the necropsy.
  3. Once an owner’s signed consent has been given to perform the necropsy, the clinician will contact the on-call pathologist at the following phone number: (217) 333-1620 and select option #1.
  4. The clinician will provide in the necropsy submission form a detailed description of the event leading to the unexpected death, any known clinical and clinicopathologic information pertinent to the case, any other diagnostic test information pertinent to the case, and any suspicions that the clinician might have regarding the cause of the unexpected death of the patient. This information should also be verbally relayed to the pathologist on call.
  5. The clinician on the case will then physically deliver the body of the patient to the pathologist on call and request the pathologist on-call contact the clinician and report the preliminary finding of the necropsy and what additional test(s) is/are pending.
  6. The clinician will update the owner about the necropsy finding and will report the finding to the VTH Director

Keywords:Patient, death, examination, necropsy, unexpected, mistake, consequence, treatment, disease, assessment, therapy, weekend, incident, pathologist, clinical, remains, dispose, diagnose, diagnostic   Doc ID:126760
Owner:Jenny C.Group:University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital
Created:2023-03-21 12:21 CDTUpdated:2023-03-21 12:25 CDT
Sites:University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital
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