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CMAJ. 1995 Sep 15;153(6):811-4.

Failure to perform autopsies means some MDs "walking in a fog of misplaced optimism".


Once the cornerstone of medical-school training because they taught the fundamentals of anatomy and the ravages of disease, autopsies are now done so infrequently that many of today's doctors graduate from medical school without ever having seen one performed. In 1950, 50% of deaths were followed by autopsy; in 1995, that rate has dropped as low as 7% in some North American hospitals. Critics say the procedure is expensive and that modern diagnostic technologies will reveal all they need to know about a particular disease process or illness; some physicians also fear lawsuits might be launched if autopsy data reveal they made an incorrect diagnosis. However, pathologists insist that the true value of autopsies is the quality assurance and ongoing education that they provide.

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