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June 13, 1980

Autopsies and Sudden Unexpected Death in Adults

Author Affiliations

Friendship, NY

JAMA. 1980;243(22):2287-2288. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300480013010

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To the Editor.—  Lundberg and Voigt (242:2328, 1979) warm the cockles of the pathologist's heart. I have often said that one could easily get away with murder in many of our economyminded rural areas. (Perhaps I should not exempt some of our suburban and even urban areas.)The excuses or explanations for not performing autopsies in cases of sudden unexpected death in adults (SUDA) are, indeed, mutable. One of the reasons that we hear excuses is that we do not assign costs to where responsibility lies. All too often the medical care dollar is siphoned off to pay for law enforcement efforts in the case of the SUDA autopsy.Once we insist that the responsible agency pay for law enforcement activities, it will be forced to budget for them. We will see action rather than hear excuses.In the light of current demands for cost containment, it is even more