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Pathol Int. 2008 Sep;58(9):568-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1827.2008.02272.x.

Clinical and pathological disagreement upon the cause of death in a teaching hospital: analysis of 100 autopsy cases in a prospective study.

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  • 1São José do Rio Preto Medical School, São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo, Brazil.


The aim of the present study was to analyze the concordance between clinical and autopsy diagnoses. For this purpose, 100 patients submitted to autopsy from July 2000 to April 2001 were studied prospectively. In all cases, clinicians gave the immediate and the underlying causes of death for patients dying under their care. The diagnoses were compared to the macroscopic autopsy diagnoses. Cohen's kappa coefficient of agreement was estimated. Sixty-four men and 36 women were submitted to autopsy. The most frequent pathological diagnosis of underlying cause of death were diseases of the circulatory system (35%), infections and parasitic diseases (20%) and diseases of the digestive system (11%). The kappa coefficient for immediate cause of death was 0.40 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.29-0.50); for underlying cause it was 0.38 (95%CI: 0.18-0.44), and for basic cause codified by group according to ICD-10 it was 0.55 (95%CI: 0.44-0.67). Major disagreement occurred in 10 cases involving pathological causes of death as circulatory diseases, in which the clinicians diagnosed a digestive system disease as the cause of death (n = 5), or infectious and parasitic diseases (n = 5). The present study shows that agreement between clinical and pathological causes of death are moderate, proving that the autopsy is still a very important procedure.

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