IN THIS ARTICLE
When the autopsy and all special studies including microbial cultures and toxicity tests are completed, the pathologist prepares a detailed report. This report describes the observations made during the autopsy procedure and explains the microscopic findings and the results of any special studies that were performed. The report gives a list of medical diagnoses and a summary of the case, emphasizing the correlation between clinical diagnoses and the autopsy findings.
Beginning in the 1950s, hospital autopsy rates started falling from an average of around 50% of all deaths to 10% in the late 1990s. Currently, the rates are even lower at non-teaching hospitals. Many factors are likely responsible for the reduction in autopsy rates, including the belief that modern diagnostic technology renders a postmortem examination obsolete. However, multiple studies have shown that autopsies still reveal a number of significant conditions and findings that were previously unknown and can provide valuable information to physicians and relatives of the deceased.
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care