A Member Board of the American Board of Medical Specialties

A- A A+





ABPLogoBlue trans 


American Board of Pathology Announces New Certification Requirement for Autopsies


August 24, 2020- The American Board of Pathology (ABPath) has announced the new certification requirement for autopsies is now 30 cases, effective immediately. This change is an interim adjustment until the ABPath autopsy requirement can become competency-based with the use of Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs). The ABPath recognizes that the pathology training curriculum has significantly expanded to include such areas as molecular pathology, informatics, and laboratory management, and therefore reducing the numerical requirement is a reasonable adjustment. The ABPath also recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the number of autopsy cases in some training programs and this adjustment will help those programs.

Using data from a survey of Pathology Residency Program Directors, ABPath determined that 30 cases is a reasonable number for most residents to achieve competence in autopsy performance. The ABPath would like to emphasize that 30 cases is the minimum numerical requirement and that some residents may require more cases to achieve competency. Also, teaching and service obligations may require residents to perform more than 30 cases.

The ABPath would like to emphasize the following current requirements for reporting an autopsy (including shared and medical legal cases) remain unchanged. The applicant must have actively participated in all the following:

1) review of the clinical history and circumstances of death

2) external examination of the body

3) gross dissection, including organ evisceration

4) review of the microscopic (as appropriate to the case) and laboratory findings

5) preparation of a written description of gross and microscopic findings

6) development of an opinion as to the cause of death

7) clinical-pathologic correlation

8) review of the autopsy report with a faculty member.

The ABPath policy on fetal autopsies remains unchanged.

The ABPath policy on shared autopsies:

There is no limit on the number of shared autopsies; no more than two residents can share an autopsy.

Effective July 2021:

 -Some shared autopsies should be conducted by a more experienced resident working with a less experienced resident to promote graduated responsibility.

Effective July 2022:

-The maximum number of limited autopsies (e.g. chest or abdomen only) allowed is five, including single organ autopsies (e.g. brain only, heart only), and cannot be shared.

-The program director will attest in the resident’s final evaluation that they are competent in the performance of autopsies.


For additional information, please see the Booklet of Information Appendix A. Autopsy Requirements at As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at



© 2015 The American Board of Pathology. All rights reserved.