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Journal of the Academy of Hospital Administration

Autopsy Format

Author(s): D Dogra*, Sanjeev Lalwani**, Reena Kumar***

Vol. 15, No. 2 (2003-07 - 2003-12)

Autopsy in medicolegal cases is conducted with several objectives which includes determination of cause, manner and time since death along with establishment of identity of deceased and collections of evidence related to identification of assailants. Autopsy in such cases is undertaken only when inquest papers (Panchnama) and written request is submitted by the investigating police officer or magistrate. The inquest papers includes form 25-35 (a), (b) and (c) mentioning apparent cause of death as judged by him from appearance and surrounding of body, description of injuries, manner and weapon used for infliction of injuries. Other papers include statement of two witness regarding identification of dead body ("Hue and Cry" notice in case of unclaimed dead body), medicolegal injury report, death certificate, copy of FIR etc.

On receipt of the inquest papers medical officer puts his signature with date and time. Entry is made in the postmortem register and a number is given. Body is shifted from the cold storage to mortuary for postmortem examination after identification by two relatives. After completion of the postmortem examination the report is entered in the prescribed autopsy form.

In may 1997, Chairman of National Human Right Commission Shri M.N. Venkatchalaiah wrote to Lieutenant Governor of Delhi that the autopsy report forms used in various states are not comprehensive and therefore do not serve the purpose and also give scope for doubt and manipulation. To plug the loopholes and to make it incisive and purposeful, the commission after ascertaining the views of the states and discussion with the experts in the field and taking into consideration, the UN model autopsy protocol, has prepared a model autopsy form enclosed as annexure I. This format has been widely accepted and currently followed at AIIMS.

Autopsy report consists of three parts namely:

1. The Preamble This includes name of the person/s identifying the dead body. Date and time or receipt of inquest papers, start and completion of autopsy along with the name of investigating officer, concerned police station and accompanying police person. This part also includes the name of deceased, father?s or husband?s name, age, sex, address, postmortem number and brief history of the case as per inquest/ treatment papers.

2. The Body of report - This includes details of compete external and internal examination of the body such as height, weight, built, rigor mortis, postmortem staining, cyanosis, eyes, signs of decomposition, special identification features such as tattoo etc, position of body, stains, natural orifices along with details of injuries mentioning type, dimension, exact site and direction with proper numbering. Findings noted on opening the cavities and dissection of all the vital organs.

3. Conclusions and Deductions - After careful consideration of the findings of the postmortem examination as mentioned above the conclusion such as cause of death, time since death and manner of death is given with clear language. The exhibits preserved such as clothing, hairs, blood samples, viscera etc. should be mentioned with purpose along with details of sealing. Total numbers of inquest papers must be mentioned in the prescribed column. This also includes signature with qualification and designation of the medical officer.

4. The report must be prepared in duplicate original (a) for investigating officer (b) copy for record but in cases of poisoning three copies are prepared which will include copy for forensic science laboratory as well.

5. After completion of report, it is handed over to investigating officer and receipt is taken in the space as prescribed in format.

Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology
Name of the Hospital

Post Mortem Report No......Ref. NO......

Body Identified also by: (Relative of deceased)

Date and hour of receipt of inquest papers and dead body

Date and hour of starting autopsy

Date and hour of concluding autopsy

Body brought and identified by

P.C. No. I.O.

P.C. No. P.S.


* Prof. and Head Deptt. of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, AIIMS
** Senior Resident, Deptt. of Forensic Medicine, AIIMS
*** Senior Resident, Deptt. of Hospital Administration, AIIMS

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