Autopsies and consent – University of Copenhagen

Autopsies and consent

Forensic medicine research often relies on tissue and other biological specimens obtained from autopsies. We have to obtain written consent from the next of kin whenever we want to use such material.

University research

The Danish departments of forensic medicine are university departments. Research is one of the core activities of the Danish universities, and research drawing on specimens obtained from autopsies frequently forms part of our studies. It results in improved diagnostics and enables us to determine the cause of death more accurately. In turn, this allows us to improve preventive medicine and care for many different groups of people. Forensic medicine research is therefore very much in the interests of society as a whole.

Research and consent

Researchers may only use tissue samples obtained during an autopsy if the next of kin have given their consent. The next of kin may therefore find that they are contacted by an RI employee asking them to consent to the use of tissue samples from their loved one for research purposes.

They will be told what the research project is for, and we will answer any questions they may have.

Since the tissue samples were obtained at the autopsy, their use in research will have no further bearing on the deceased or the next of kin.