Autopsy guidelines series

The College autopsy guidelines are technical documents which have been written as an aid for practising pathologists carrying out a coroners post-mortem. As such, this guidance may contain some distressing information and is not intended for friends and relatives of the deceased.

There is some information about post-mortems for friends and relatives on our website and the Human Tissue Authority website.

NICE has accredited the process used by The Royal College of Pathologists to produce its autopsy guidelines. Accreditation is valid for five years from 25 July 2017 and is retrospectively applicable to documents produced using the processes described in our guidance for authors.

Guidance produced following the accredited process bears the NICE accreditation mark.

More information about accreditation is available on the NICE website.

Published documents

New briefing on COVID-19 – Autopsy practice relating to possible cases of COVID-19

This brief guidance has been produced by RCPath following the outbreak of the COVID-19 infection in China.

Documents under consultation

Members can comment on draft documents here.

Documents under review

The College is undertaking a large programme to update the autopsy scenarios originally published as guidance in 2005. This update will ensure that our guidance meets the modern demands on autopsy practice and ensures they relate pragmatically to coronial practice which constitutes over 90% of post-mortem work in the UK. 

New documents in development


  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Precautions for infectious autopsies
  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)
  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Traumatic brain injury
  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Post-mortem examination of patients with cerebrovascular disease


  • Guidelines on autopsy practice: Removal of radioactive implants (prostate)