The Regional Autopsy Center: The University of Alabama at Birmingham Experience
Rates of autopsied deaths have decreased significantly for the last several decades. It may not be practical for some institutions to maintain the facilities and staffing required to perform autopsies. In recent years, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has established contracts to perform autopsies for several regional institutions including the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS), the United States Veterans Affairs, the local prison system, local community hospitals, and with families for private autopsy services. Contracts and autopsy data from 2004 to 2015 were obtained and reviewed. Since 2004, the number of UAB hospital autopsies trended slightly downward. On average, UAB hospital cases comprised most yearly cases, and the ADFS was the second largest contributor of cases. Income generated from outside autopsies performed from 2006 to 2015 totaled just more than 2 million dollars, and most of the income was generated from referred ADFS cases. This study provides evidence that a centralized institution (regional autopsy center [RAC]) can provide regional autopsy service in a practical, feasible, and economically viable manner, and a RAC can benefit both the referring institutions as well as the RAC itself.