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November 13, 1987

Autopsy—Current Issues-Reply

Author Affiliations

Secretary, Council on Scientific Affairs American Medical Association Chicago

Secretary, Council on Scientific Affairs American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1987;258(18):2525. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400180059010

In Reply.—  Interpersonal relationships between physician and family are important when requesting autopsy. The request for autopsy occurs during a time of intense emotional experience for bereaved families and requires a balance between the science and the art of medical practice, and between the expansion of knowledge and respect for human suffering. In every case, scientific inquiry should be secondary to concern for individuals.1Several authors have addressed the complexity of acquiring permission for autopsy after death.2-4 Effective counseling and support for the bereaved require education of physicians to achieve effective and sympathetic interaction. Role modeling by faculty as a method of teaching is highly recommended to demonstrate prevailing attitudes, religious dicta, and scientific imperatives.5Discomfort surrounding requests for autopsy could be reduced by educating the public on the benefits of this procedure. Appreciation for the role of autopsy in helping to assuage grief by explaining the