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Tanya Grassi
Med J Aust 2008; 188 (7): 423.
Published online: 7 April 2008

The declining rate of non-forensic autop-sies has resulted in a loss of important knowledge for clinicians and pathologists, according to Canadian and US researchers. In their review, the authors found that errors in diagnosis which may have resulted in a change in therapy (class 1 errors) are missed in approximately 10% of cases. They also discovered that the expected prevalence of missed cases among non-autopsied patients significantly reduced the rate of antemortem detection of three serious illnesses: aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism, and active tuberculosis. Declining expertise, a lack of resources, and a reluctance to order post-mortem examinations all contribute to the problem. The authors suggest an alternate approach based on the establishment of regional government-funded autopsy centres which would allow proper pathologist training and resuscitate the dying art of the autopsy.

  • Tanya Grassi


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