IN THIS ARTICLE
What does the autopsy report contain?
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.
How often are autopsies performed?
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