Recent Trends in Autopsies and Why They Matter

Fifty years ago almost fifty percent of people who died in hospitals in the United States received autopsies. Today only 5% of those who die in hospitals receive autopsies.  Why the decrease in autopsies and why does it matter?

Why Fewer Autopsies are Performed

Quite simply, fewer people are requesting that autopsies be performed. Doctors don’t want autopsies performed because autopsies could reveal medical malpractice mistakes. Hospitals don’t want autopsies performed because they are expensive and health insurance does not typically pay for autopsies. Families may not know that an autopsy is an option because doctors and hospitals are not required to tell them that an autopsy is available. Likewise, medical examiners only have an interest in autopsies when foul play is suspected.

Why Autopsies are Important

Autopsies can provide definitive information about why a patient died. They can also provide valuable information for doctors and researchers. Doctors may learn if a mistake was made so that future mistakes are not made on other patients. Researchers may discover whether a particular treatment was more or less effective than thought.

Do you think incentives should be put in place to encourage autopsies? Would you consent to an autopsy for your loved one? Please share your thoughts with our Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyers.