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Perinatal death, Autopsy, Cultural competence, Multiculturalism



  1. Chichester, Melanie BSN, RNC


The subject of perinatal autopsy is not frequently seen in the literature. Perinatal loss, particularly stillbirth, frequently remains unexplained, despite current technology and diagnostic procedures. Parents may automatically refuse an autopsy, despite the potentially valuable information it could provide about the current pregnancy and subsequent pregnancies and despite the possible comfort the results could provide for relatives. Other reasons for declining an autopsy could be cultural or religious prohibitions. In addition, healthcare providers sometimes lack the knowledge of circumstances under which a postmortem examination is permitted, and fail to use culturally sensitive and culturally competent discussions about the reasons a postmortem examination is important and permissible. This purpose of this article is to provide information on selected cultural and religious groups to assist the nurse who is seeking consent for a perinatal autopsy.