Background: Postmortem radiology, a non-invasive method to diagnose the cause of death, is a relatively new topic in practicing postmortem diagnostics in Dutch hospitals. Postmortem imaging can be seen as an addition to, or even alternative to autopsy, when autopsy isn’t desirable or suitable. Therefore, more hospitals than the few that are nowadays, should be able to perform postmortem radiology and to qualify the postmortem images. Besides, postmortem radiology can be experienced as an important instrument to measure quality of health care practices.
Objectives: To enhance the performance of postmortem radiology in The Netherlands, a clinical guideline was developed. A specific component in developing the guideline was the integration of the perspective of relatives of deceased patients that underwent postmortem radiology/diagnostics, and the development of a network of radiologists.
Methods:Besides literature searches to find the most up-to-date evidence on postmortem radiology in three categories of patients: fetuses, children and adults, ‘patient’ perspective was integrated throughout the guideline. Via a patient panel, designed by the Federation of Patient Organizations in The Netherlands, relatives of deceased adults/children that underwent postmortem diagnostics (either autopsy or radiology) where approached to give their opinion in a focus group. To implement postmortem radiology in hospitals, a network of specialised and experienced (postmortem) radiologists is developed on a national scale to offer assistance in assessment of postmortem scans and the organisation of postmortem radiology in hospitals on a regional level.
Results: The result is a clinical guideline on how to organise and implement postmortem radiology in (Dutch) hospitals and a national network of (postmortem) radiologists.
Conclusions:The clinical guideline postmortem radiology is an example of how evidence combined with expert and 'patient' opinion can be used in implementing and improving healthcare practices.