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October 25, 1985

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

JAMA. 1985;254(16):2321-2323. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360160153044

For most pathologists and other physicians in the United States, the past year was one of significant readjustments in practice patterns in response to new federal regulations. It was also a year of exciting advances in utilizing the autopsy and other laboratory studies to advance understanding of both "new" diseases and of long-recognized but still incompletely understood disease processes. It also saw the beginning of a revolution in diagnostic medicine as applications of DNA technology were adapted for use in research and clinical laboratories.

Despite its long history of contributions to medical knowledge, the autopsy has declined in importance in recent decades to an autopsy rate well below 20% in many US hospitals. However, a recent study of 100 randomly selected autopsies from a university teaching hospital during 1960, 1970, and 1980 confirmed that newer diagnostic technologies had not reduced,the value of autopsies.1 A review of the autopsy literature