Referral to the Victorian Perinatal Autopsy Service (VPAS)
In general, each maternity service in Victoria should contact its closest tertiary centre to access advice on the best clinical investigations and other associated specialist pathology services.
Where an existing relationship exists with a tertiary centre, maternity services may choose to access the VPAS through this existing relationship.
The VPAS is available to private health services and pathology laboratories, which are encouraged to use this service for all perinatal deaths.
Please refer to the PDF link below, Recommendations for VPAS referrals.
The Post Mortem Overview
To ensure a smooth transition, an overview of the post-mortem process is outlined below. Please ensure all steps are followed.
For more detailed information, please download Maternity Providers referring registered post mortems to VPAS Hospitals.
Paperwork required for an autopsy
The following documentation must accompany the baby:
- Post-mortem consent form
- Clinical Information Form - Before Commencement of Post mortem
- Placenta Request form (use standard hospital request form)
- Clinical Information Form - Before Commencement of Placental Pathology
- Clinical/obstetric history including relevant previous obstetric history. If available, include results of stillbirth/neonatal death associated blood tests and antenatal serology
- Copies of the death certificate
- Copies of all relevant antenatal and fetal imaging reports
- Copy of prenatal genetic testing including karyotyping results if available
- Transport authorisation form
Please download and print these forms.
Explaining the Post-Mortem Procedure to Parents
Approaching the topic of post-mortem examination with bereaved parents may be challenging for clinical staff. To assist in planning for this conversation, senior clinical and bereavement staff share their approach to the difficult but important topic of autopsy consent in a video resource. Watch the 15-minute video on Vimeo.
Please also download and print the Post-mortem examination - An explanation for families fact sheet to provide to parents. This leaflet comes translated in eight different languages. This will help parents better understand the post-mortem procedure and what is involved. It explains to parents the advantages and disadvantages involved in performing a post-mortem and the types of post-mortem available. This leaflet must be read by parents prior to completing the consent form. Consent can only be obtained if this leaflet has been read by parents.
VPAS 24 hour urgent advice
Access to urgent 24 hour telephone advice is available for health services needing information about the best clinical investigations and practices should a perinatal death occur, including advice on perinatal post mortem examinations. Please contact the appropriate tertiary centre to access this advice. Please refer to the contact information on the VPAS front page.
Hard copies of reports will be sent to the requesting maternity provider approximately 8 weeks after completion of the autopsy. For more complex autopsies, delivery of reports may take longer as they will require further specialised testing. The maternity provider will then follow their own protocol in informing the parents of the results.
Consistent with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, each VPAS tertiary centre will send copies of all perinatal autopsy reports to the Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity (CCOPMM).
For cases that may involve the coroner, expert advice can be obtained from the Coronial Admissions and Enquiries (CA&E) 24 hour office on 1300 309 519 or (toll free) or +61 3 8688 0700.
Reporting of deaths to CCOPMM
All maternity providers will need to follow their hospital’s procedures for reporting perinatal deaths to the CCOPMM. It should be noted that unexpected stillbirths should be notified to CCOPPM within 48 hours.
It is also the Department of Health and Human Services’ policy that all perinatal deaths are reviewed by a Perinatal Morbidity and Mortality Committe
Downloads and Related Topics
Post mortem examination - an explanation for families
This information is for families whose baby has died at the Royal Women’s Hospital. While some of the information will be relevant to families elsewhere, not all hospitals follow the same procedures.
- Post mortem examination - an explanation for families