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September 5, 1903


JAMA. 1903;XLI(10):609-610. doi:10.1001/jama.1903.02490290021005

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Every physician must have experienced the feeling that is expressed in the following from a daily newspaper editorial. It is entitled "Compulsory Postmortems—They Would Weed Out Criminally Ignorant Doctors and Add Vastly to Medical Knowledge":

When a human being dies this should be the first thought in the mind of the lawmaker and of the bereaved relatives: how can this death, which now causes individual sorrow, be made useful to all human beings? How can it be made a defense of others in future?

Every doctor will tell you that invaluable information is lost because a sentimental feeling forbids making postmortem examinations. The fond relatives can not bear the thought of an operation being performed on the body of one that they loved. It is useless to tell them that the death is mysterious, that an explanation of its cause might save many lives. They think of nothing but the

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