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June 16, 1999

Autopsy Rates and Diagnosis—Reply

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(23):2181. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-23-jac90005

In Reply: Dr Lynn and colleagues raise excellent points. No data are currently available for comparing individual health service organizations that deliver consistent, high-quality health care. The autopsy is one of the best indicators available for measuring health care performance and outcomes and could allow for life-span correction in measurements of symptoms and function. In addressing methods for quality comparisons and outcomes within health care systems, autopsy is a crucial component and should be included. The elderly are the fastest growing segment of the population and there is no doubt that age bias extends to the autopsy table. Unfortunately, considerable data are lost by burying the aged unautopsied.

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