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Lab Manual for UCSF Clinical Laboratories

Lab Manual for SFGH

Internal Resources

Autopsy Service

Contact Information


Autopsy Administrative Office

  • 513 Parnassus Ave., Room M-55
  • San Francisco, CA 94143
  • Phone: (415) 353-1629
  • Private Fax: (415) 353-1243


Autopsy Information Sheets


The UCSF Medical Center (Parnassus Moffitt-Long Hospitals, Mission Bay Hospitals, and Mount Zion Hospital) provides the Autopsy Service as a courtesy to its physicians and their patients’ families. Autopsies are done only upon signed consent from the legal next-of-kin or designated durable power of attorney for healthcare. Upon proper consent, autopsies are performed at no charge on patients who die in these hospitals. The Office of Patient Relations (415-353-1936) assists the physicians and families in completing the necessary paperwork. UCSF patients with terminal disease who die elsewhere (e.g., in hospice or at home) also can be autopsied at no charge if the Medical Examiner has released the case and the family pays for transport of the body to the Moffitt-Long Hospitals. These outpatient UCSF cases must be accepted by the Director or attending pathologist of the Autopsy Service before transport, and the paperwork is handled by the Autopsy Service directly (415-353-1629). The Autopsy Service does not do autopsies on patients who have not been evaluated or treated for their primary problem at UCSF.

Autopsies usually are performed within one business day of obtaining written consent. A complete autopsy involves dissection of organs from all body cavities—chest, abdomen and cranium. In some cases, however, the family may restrict the examination to a specific area of interest. In no case are incisions made in the face, hands or any other part of the body that may be visible at funeral. At autopsy the dissected internal organs are preserved for storage until further study is no longer necessary (and the organs eventually are cremated). Immediately following the autopsy, the body cavities are closed with sutures and the designated mortuary notified. Morticians are expert at preparing the body for funeral; there will be no evidence of prior autopsy—even with open casket. A final report listing all of the findings at autopsy is sent to the referring physician within one month of the procedure. Typically, this patient-care physician discusses the final report with the family and interprets the anatomic findings within the particular clinical context. The legal next-of-kin is entitled to a copy of the final report and may request one from UCSF Medical Records (415-353-2221).

Autopsy Services
Service Name Moffitt Mt. Zion Mission Bay Benioff Children's Hospital-Mission Bay SFGH VAMC


Request Service

Complete postmortem examination of brain/spinal cord, neck/thoracic organs, and abdominal organs or postmortem examination/biopsies restricted to particular regions.

Yes Yes Yes Yes

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