Increasing autopsy rates at a public hospital

J Gen Intern Med. 1997 May;12(5):315-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1525-1497.1997.012005315.x.


Despite the acknowledged value of autopsies, autopsy rates are low in American hospitals. We developed an extensive intervention to increase the autopsy rate on the medical service of our urban teaching hospital and to identify obstacles to obtaining permission for autopsy. The 6-month intervention increased the autopsy rate from 7.5% during the previous 2 years to 16.8%, but this effect disappeared after the intervention. Among patients for whom permission for autopsy was nor obtained, physicians failed to request permission for 31% and families refused permission for 69%.

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Autopsy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cause of Death
  • Data Collection
  • Hospitals, Municipal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Teaching / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • New York
  • Policy Making
  • Urban Population