The importance of obtaining a high percentage of autopsies on the bodies of patients who die in hospitals needs no emphasis. Adequate instruction of students, development and evaluation of new methods of treatment, verification of diagnoses, accumulation of accurate records and statistics, and furtherance of research are best accomplished in institutions where a large percentage of deceased patients come to necropsy.
Hospitals which require a signed permission for autopsy as a prerequisite to admission have no difficulty in maintaining a high percentage. A different situation prevails in those hospitals which do not enforce such a requirement. These institutions (they constitute a majority of all hospitals) must depend on persuasion.
The request for permission to perform an autopsy must necessarily be made when the relatives are keyed to a high pitch of emotional excitement, when tender sentiments evoked by death offer strong opposition to any procedure which will entail indignity or
HOFFMAN WJ. POSTMORTEM EXAMINATIONS: METHOD OF OBTAINING PERMISSION. JAMA. 1933;101(16):1199–1205. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.02740410001001
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