Assessing the autopsy

Am J Pathol. 1987 Aug;128(2):362-79.


This study outlines the role of autopsies in medical practice and health policy, details the nature and reason for declining rates, including those in Rochester, Minnesota, and suggests possible remedial measures to halt or reverse this trend. It is concluded that one of the principal impediments to reversing the declining rate of autopsies is what is referred to in Economics as "market failure." In particular, the nature of the spatial and temporal distribution of costs and benefits has precluded the existence of an incentive structure which can lead to a realization of the major net social benefits from the autopsy. Ultimately, it is only the explicit recognition by the medical profession, government agencies, corporate insurers, and the general public of the nature and significance of this market failure and foregone benefits which can lead to remediation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Autopsy*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Diagnosis-Related Groups
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Malpractice
  • Quality Control
  • Time Factors
  • United States