Objective: To review the autopsies performed at a university-affiliated teaching hospital over a 12-month period.
Data sources: Records of autopsies performed at a university-affiliated teaching hospital during 1997, and Medline literature search (1966-1998).
Study selection: The key words used in the literature search were 'autopsy' and 'audit'.
Data extraction: Data were extracted and analysed by the authors. Any discrepant cases (in which the final diagnoses were either unexpected or not made before death) were identified from the hospital records.
Data synthesis: Interest in autopsy results has increased, owing to the greater emphasis on medical audit and quality assurance procedures. Of the yearly total of 403 autopsies, 332 cases were reviewed; the discrepancies found were classified as either major or minor, according to their effect on the clinical outcome. The major and minor discrepancy rates were 23% and 9%, respectively. In 2% of cases, the cause of death was due to complications resulting from surgical intervention. These discrepancy rates were comparable to the figures quoted in the literature.
Conclusion: Autopsy is a valid medical quality-assurance mechanism in Hong Kong.