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Off topic: 10X fewer autopsies in US hospitals in past 50 years

Without Autopsies, Hospitals Bury Their Mistakes ProPublica Dec. 2011

A few highlights from the excellent article

Average number of autopsies in US (on patients who have been in hospital at least one day)

  • Mid 20th century: half
  • 2011: 5%
  • Teaching hospitals: 20%
  • Private and community hospitals 2011: close to zero %


  • Insurers don’t pay for autopsies . (An autopsy costs about $1,275)
  • Medicare does not pay for autopsies
  • Some fear autopsies may reveal malpractice. (diagnostic/procedural errors)

I would not mind a decrease in autopsies, but a 2002 review of autopsies uncovered “major errors” in 1 out of every 4 autopsies
Autopsy rate in England is apparently still about 20% - the UK has not ignored their laws the way the US has.

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