The success of a centralized decedent affairs office depends on support by clinicians, the department chairman, and hospital administration. The benefits to the institution include improved public relations with a decedent's family, compliance with state and federal laws, increased organ donations, and better risk management programs. The only drawback of establishing such an office is the additional personnel necessary for 24-hour coverage. However, modifications in the functions and staffing levels of a decedent affairs office may be made, depending on the needs of individual institutions. We hypothesized that consent for autopsy would be easier to obtain and cause less emotional upheaval for family members if procedures were well established and specially trained individuals were involved in the process. With these ideas in mind, we established a decedent affairs office at The University of Texas Medical Branch in 1984.
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