The MUSC Department of Pathology Medical and Forensic Autopsy Division is staffed by 5 pathology faculty members, all board certified by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic, Clinical, and Forensic Pathology. We perform medical autopsies for MUSC Hospital and other referring hospitals, such as Trident Regional Medical Center and the Charleston VA Hospital and medicolegal forensic cases for any referring South Carolina County Coroner. Cases are performed seven days per week, including holidays. Approximately 1200 autopsies are performed at our institution each year. Our section is assisted by a forensic office operations coordinator, medical autopsy administrators, 3 experienced autopsy technicians and two autopsy assistants. Our Mortuary Services staff members are available 24 hours a day.
The MUSC Forensic and Autopsy Division supports the recommendations of the National Association of Medical Examiners Position Paper on the Medical Examiner Release of Organs and Tissues for Transplantation. In most instances, the procurement of organs or tissues can occur without jeopardizing the effectiveness of an autopsy.
Medicolegal cases referred to MUSC by the South Carolina County Coroners are performed by forensic pathologists certified by the American Board of Pathology. Over 1000 autopsies and external postmortem examinations are performed at out institution per year and are comprised of 15% homicides; 37%accidents; 10% suicides; 32% natural; and 5% undetermined (2016 statistics). Both courtroom and deposition testimony and individual consultations are provided as needed for criminal cases. Toxicological services are offered by the SC State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Forensic Services Laboratory, Axis Forensic Toxicology or National Medical Services (NMS) Laboratory. An ACGME accredited Forensic Pathology Fellowship program is available.
The Autopsy Section serves MUSC hospitals comprised of the University Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and Ashley River Tower as well as outpatient and Emergency Department services. The Department has contracts for medical autopsy coverage with outside hospitals including Trident Regional Medical Center and the Ralph H. Johnson Charleston Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center. An average of 150 medical autopsies is performed per year. The Department and Autopsy Division are accredited by the College of American Pathologists.
Our expert autopsy pathologists are available for private consultations with families. Fee-for-service postmortem examinations to address questions of cause of death, evaluation of medical procedures, evaluation for co-existing conditions, analysis of inheritable diseases, and other concerns can be arranged directly with a deceased’s next-of-kin. For additional information regarding the benefits of the autopsy, please see the College of American Pathologists “Autopsy: Aiding the Living by Understanding Death”. Topics discussed include: what is an autopsy, why perform an autopsy, how families and communities benefit from the autopsy, and common concerns about autopsies.
Ashley Wooldridge, MS
Phyllis Ross (Medical Autopsy) Phone: 792-8725
Medical and Forensic Autopsy Section
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Medical University of South Carolina
171 Ashley Avenue, MSC 908
Charleston, South Carolina 29425-9080
Phone: (843) 792-3500
Fax: (843) 792-3537