Hospitals & Healthcare Providers

Most patients enter the hospital to be treated and cured, and happily that is the way it usually turns out. Inevitably, however, a patient dies in the hospital or shortly after discharge, leaving the family bereaved, confused, and perhaps angry. Many studies have shown there are approximately 40% serious errors in the diagnosis of hospitalized patients who die and are autopsied and two thirds of the undiagnosed conditions were considered treatable.

Pathology Departments

In busy Pathology Departments today, it is often difficult to free a Pathologist from other duties to perform an autopsy. Due to the lack of personnel resources, hospitals often cannot benefit from this important quality assurance procedure.

PSS has been providing support to Hospitals, Pathology Groups and Institutions since 1974. Our pathologists are board certified. We can perform autopsies in your facility as your agent, allowing your medical staff to be present if desired. Also, we can perform the autopsy in the funeral home the family has chosen.

We will communicate with the family and the clinicians, thereby protecting your time.Our fees are reasonable and we are fully insured. We will provide sample copies of our work product on request.

Decedent Affairs Office

After the loss of a loved one, families need your care. The attending physician may not consider an autopsy medically necessary, or your hospital may have a policy against autopsies. However, the family may still have many unanswered questions. Our goal is not to leave those questions unanswered.

Most families are not aware that they can request and pay for a private autopsy. You can refer families to us with confidence. We talk with many families every day, and understand the grieving process and the need for closure. We try to put the course of illness and cause of death in a perspective that the family will understand. goal

Our service is confidential, independent, and discreet.

The families of hospice patients may still have many unexplained questions after the death of their loved one. Some of these questions can only be answered unequivocally by an autopsy. We have RN’s, NP’s, and PA’s on our staff who are skilled in dealing with bereaved families. Our staff is knowledgeable about the questions an autopsy will or will not answer.

Most families are not aware that they can request and pay for a private autopsy. You can refer families to us with confidence. We talk with many families every day, and understand the grieving process and the need for closure. We try to put the course of illness and cause of death in a perspective that the family will understand. We try to take the ambiguity out of death for the family and the care providers.

Nursing Staff

The death of a patient is an emotional experience for the nursing staff as well as the family. In the day to day contact with the patient’s family there is often a trusting as well as a caring relationship that develops. Families often ask questions of the nurse that the physician cannot or will not answer. Families want to know where to find answers. PSS has RN’s, NP’s, and PA’s on our staff who are skilled in dealing with bereaved families. Our staff is knowledgeable about the questions an autopsy will or will not answer.

Most families are not aware that they can request and pay for a private autopsy. You can refer families to us with confidence. We talk with many families every day, and understand the grieving process and the need for closure. Our board certified pathologist try to put the course of illness and cause of death in a perspective that the family will understand. We try to take the ambiguity out of death both for the family and for the care providers.

Medical Social Workers

Whether a loved one’s death is anticipated, as in hospice care, or unexpected, the event itself is always sudden. In the beat of a heart the situation has changed.

People handle the death of a loved one differently. Some are able to work through their grief with the help of family and social services. Others have many unanswered questions that only an autopsy can resolve and thereby bringing closure.

The families medical history has become more and more important as new information is learned about many illnesses. Your client, their children, others in their family may want to know what medical conditions have occurred in the family. With an autopsy, they can know for sure.

We are a community resource for those families that have unanswered questions about the death and course of illness of a spouse, parent or child.

Risk Management

Life is not perfect, mistakes happen. Communication is the key to resolving perceived or actual errors. Sometimes egos interfere with communication. Sometimes it’s the lack of adequate information. When a death occurs (often unexpected by the family but not by the physician), communication by the medical staff sometime ends due to fear of legal action. This cessation of communication creates suspicion, cynicism and reinforces the anger that is part of the normal grieving process.

Studies have shown that a well performed and documented autopsy is as much benefit to the defense as it is to the plaintiff. By retaining PSS to do the autopsy, it demonstrates to the family that you are offering an independent evaluation of your services.

Our service is confidential, independent, and discreet.

Services Provided

  • Complete Autopsy – $2,500.00 to $4,500.00 (includes travel)

This includes a gross description of all organ systems and microscopic examination by a board certified pathologist, diagnosis and cause of death if different than that stated on the death certificate. A comprehensive report with a case summary in non-medical terms will be completed in approximately forty-five working days.

  • Neuropathology Consult – add $700.00

This includes the above plus a detailed examination of the brain by a board certified neuropathologist. This examination is only needed if there are questions regarding the mental or neurological status of the individual, such as seizure disorder or dementia. This increases the report completion time to approximately ninety working days.

  • Toxicology – add $400.00

This includes the examination of blood and urine for specific prescription drugs.

Toxicology is normally not needed. This increases the report completion time to approximately ninety working days.

  • Brain only Autopsy – $1,800.00 to $3,500.00 (includes travel)

This is an acceptable choice if the only questions involve the mental status of the individual, such as the type of dementia involved.

This examination includes a detailed description of the brain with diagnosis and clinicopathological correlation by a board certified neuropathologist. A comprehensive report will be completed in approximately ninety working days.

Tissue collection and partial autopsies for toxic tort cases are time driven. Technician’s time is billed at $200.00/hour, plus expenses, with a $600.00, plus expenses, minimum and $1500.00/a day, plus expenses, maximum. Pathologist time for case review is billed at $350.00/hour plus expenses (two hour minimum) civil court testimony is billed at $450.00/hour (two hour minimum).

  • Depositions are billed at $300.00/hour (two hour minimum).

The above prices are as of January 1, 2006 and may be subject to change without notice.
Please call for confirmation.

FAQs

Why? Most patients enter the hospital to be treated and cured, and happily that is the way it usually turns out. Inevitably, however, a patient dies in the hospital or shortly after discharge, leaving the family bereaved, confused, and perhaps angry. Many studies have shown there are approximately 40% serious errors in the diagnosis of hospitalized patients who die and are autopsied and two thirds of the undiagnosed conditions were considered treatable. As a health care provider, one way of helping the family understand what happened to their loved one is by recommending an independent autopsy be performed. This will not only answer the many questions the family has, it will also increase the value of your services in the eyes of the family. The autopsy has the additional value of increasing medical knowledge, thus benefiting families and humanity.

  • The illness and death of a loved is one of the most traumatic experiences we have to endure.
  • This is a time the family needs answers, not more questions.
  • Independent autopsy to answer their questions.
  • May feel remorseful later if they don’t take steps to answer questions now.

When? The autopsy should be performed as soon after death as possible and before the body is embalmed.

Who? It is most important that the service you recommend not only represent itself in a professional and dignified manner, they must represent your establishment in the same manner. Pathology Support Services, Inc. (PSS) is the oldest and most professional service of its kind in the country.

Where? PSS will do the autopsy in your hospital autopsy room or in the funeral home the family has chosen. Your facility will be left as clean as it was when we began. We are fully insured and meet all Cal OSHA standards.

Cost: See services provided.