On 6th March 2015 the European Critical Care Foundation (ECCF) in collaboration with Imperial College London held a meeting on the decline of autopsies and implications for the care of critically ill patients. The meeting was hosted in London by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and brought together a wide range of disciplines including healthcare professionals, imaging specialists, religious and cultural experts.
HTA was invited to attend and was an active participant. Discussion revealed that the reasons for the decline appear to be multi-factorial: a complex interplay of cultural attitudes, professional practices, organisational, economic and other factors. Data presented at the meeting indicates that some NHS Trusts perform no consented autopsies at all. The decline, which has been noted across much of Europe, has led many groups to ask whether important information about causes of death and the healthcare information this can provide, is being lost. Following the meeting, ECCF plans to raise the issue of autopsy decline with European institutions, and to work with partners and key stakeholders to reverse this trend for the ultimate benefit of patients and healthcare systems.