Post Mortem Studio Rentals, www.postmortemstudiorental.com, offer medical and death related props for film and television. Much relevant material can be found on their site.
This web site is dedicated to the concept of people having an informed choice as to whether their bodies are autopsied after they have died.
Autopsy is a process of cutting open the body and removing all organs for examination. The organs are then placed together to the chest cavity and the wounds are sown up and the body made presentable for the funeral profession. Don't look at the picture if you are of nervous or sensitive disposition, but you can click here for a picture of a fully autopsied body. And here for a paper which makes available to interested individuals an authentic detailed narrative account of a routine post-mortem "examination" (ie "dissection", also known as autopsy) as performed by a pathologist on a patient who has died in a U.S. hospital. The procedures are likely to be similar around the world. If you feel that you may be shocked or disturbed by it, then don't read it.
Advantages are that the medical profession has information for research and quality control, and the legal profession has information for research which it may be able to use in cases of crime or professional misconduct.
The advantage to the deceased is that any crime or medical malpractice may be discovered and punished. If the individual were able to refuse autopsy, a criminal would be less fearful of being caught or professionals less fearful of being found out in cases of sloppy work.
Nevertheless, some individuals because of religious or moral belief, would prefer not to be autopsied. They are willing to run the risks of crime in just the same way as some people do not have burglar alarms or house contents insurance. In my opinion, it should be their choice to take the risk.
It appears that the British government is reasonably sympathetic to the opinions expressed on this web site, but are not willing to go quite as far as allowing the freedom of choice suggested here. They have published a book entitled The Removal, Retention and Use of Human Organs and Tissue from Post Mortem Examination which sets out their thoughts at the present time. This includes research leading to the replacement of dissection with MRI scanning technology.
Here are a series of votes that you can use to express your opinion on this matter. If you are concerned about this subject, print out the results of one or more of these votes and use it to explain to your elected representative your concerns about this.
What I propose is that the law should be modified so that citizens can normally be autopsied if the medical or legal authorities so chose without any further permission. However if the citizen carries a card and/or has registered his/her desire not to be autopsied, then these wishes are legally binding upon the state. When making such provisions, the citizen should be informed as part of the documentation as to the risks that he/she is slightly more likely to be the subject of professional negligence or murder, and that an autopsy may aid medical and/or legal research generally for the good of humanity.
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