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January 5, 1976

Postmortem Examination-Reply

Author Affiliations

Camden, NJ

JAMA. 1976;235(1):22. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260270011008

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In Reply.—  My review of autopsy findings was an attempt to evaluate their importance relative to the effort involved and should not be interpreted as a general deprecation of postmortem studies. Several references noted in my article stressed the value of the autopsy for medical progress and the quality control of medical practice, but provided little or no concrete data to support these views. Every medical specialty can benefit from at least occasionally questioning its work to determine results of selected procedures. As noted by Dr Swank, a high autopsy percentage by itself may not be a valid criterion of quality.All of the autopsy findings in each patient were analyzed both on the basis of agreement with the clinical diagnoses and clinical importance of any discrepancies. Although a panel of clinicians may have been helpful in the correlation of autopsy findings and clinical diagnoses, I believe that a pathologist