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August 1982

Validation of Autopsy Method for Evaluating Trauma Care

Author Affiliations

From St Joseph Hospital, Orange, Calif.

Arch Surg. 1982;117(8):1033-1035. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1982.01380320025007

• A previous study on the simplified autopsy method evaluated autopsies from a series of motor vehicle deaths. The results were not generally accepted by the medical and political community because of reservations concerning the validity of the autopsy data. In response, I undertook a second study evaluating a similar series, using data from hospital records as well as autopsies. Results were evaluated by the autopsy method and compared with the results obtained by the hospital records method. Seventy-one percent of the deaths were judged preventable by the autopsy method as compared with 85% by the hospital records method. All deaths judged preventable by the autopsy method were also judged preventable by the method using hospital records. This confirms that the autopsy method accurately identifies and understates the problem it exposes.

(Arch Surg 1982;117:1033-1035)

West JG, Trunkey DD, Lim RC:  Systems of trauma care: A study of two counties . Arch Surg 1979;114:455-460.Article
West JG:  An autopsy method of evaluating trauma care . J Trauma 1981;21:32-34.Article
Task Force of the Committee on Trauma, American College of Surgeons:  Optimum hospital resources for the care of the injured patient . Bull Am Coll Surg 1979;64:43-48.