Placental release or disposal? Experiences of perinatal pathologists

Rebecca N. Baergen, Harshwardhan M. Thaker, Debra S. Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Placentas have been often considered medical waste in hospitals. This view is particularly held by the patients themselves, who may not understand the importance of placental examination. Hospitals have been receiving requests for placental release to patients and need to be prepared to handle these requests. Therefore, a survey was conducted to explore the experiences and practices of perinatal pathologists with respect to placental release. Utilizing SurveyMonkey, we emailed a survey to 192 practicing perinatal pathologists in the United States and Canada. Questions were asked about policies in force at their particular institution, conditions of release, and the purpose of release, ie, what the disposition of the placenta was after release to the family. Thirty-six responses were received; 22 (61.1%) of respondents did allow release of placentas, and those who did not release usually reported that they had not received requests for release. In most cases, specific policies were in place, with multiple departments within the hospital having input on the creation of the policy. Parental signature was required in most cases. The most common reason for patient request was to bury the placenta, although some placental release was for consumption and/or encapsulation. Although there are no specific religious requirements for use or burial of the placenta after delivery, there are many cultural reasons for requests. Hospitals and specific providers need to be aware of this interest and have a specific policy in place so that they are prepared when a request is received.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-330
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric and Developmental Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Medical waste disposal
  • Placenta
  • Social values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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