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Medical News and Perspectives
January 11, 1995

Hearing Elicits No Plan to Raise Autopsy Rates

JAMA. 1995;273(2):96-97. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520260012005

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AUTOPSIES have declined in recent decades, and the situation worries a number of authorities. For example, in a recent issue of the British medical journal The Lancet (1994;344:1517-1518), an editorial pointed out that "there are considerable discrepancies between clinical diagnoses and necropsy findings," emphasizing the "importance of necropsy in modern clinical practice."

The falling rate of autopsies in the United States has been a source of concern for some time. It is estimated that in 1950, autopsies were performed after 50% to 60% of hospital deaths. Currently, the rate is estimated to be well below 20%, with many areas of the country having rates well below 10%, said Donald T. Lewers, MD, a nephrologist who practices in Easton, Md, and a member of the American Medical Association's Board of Trustees.

Lewers spoke at a meeting of the Practicing Physicians Advisory Council, a group that advises the Health Care Financing Administration

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