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June 28, 1995

Pathologists Request Autopsy Revival

JAMA. 1995;273(24):1889-1891. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520480007002

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TO LOOK AT the data, the practice of autopsy is a dying procedure. Thirty years ago around 50% of hospital deaths were autopsied. Since then there has been a steady decline, so that today in teaching hospitals only 10% to 20% of deaths are autopsied. In community hospitals, the rate is probably below 5%— and the trend continues downward.

"American health care policymakers have relegated the role of autopsy to the back burner of health care reform," said Paul Raslavicus, MD, secretary-treasurer of the College of American Pathologists. The situation worries those who think the autopsy is a valuable tool for the improvement of medical care.

"Medicine needs the autopsy. It is the one place where truth can be sought, found, and told without conflicts of interest," said George D. Lundberg, MD, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Raslavicus and Lundberg were among the speakers at a

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