The value of autopsy from a clinical point of view. A survey of 250 general practitioners and hospital clinicians in the county of Sør-Trøndelag, Norway

APMIS. 1998 Jul;106(7):693-8.


An enquiry into clinicians' attitudes to autopsies was conducted by questionnaire sent to 166 general practitioners in the county of Sør-Trøndelag in Norway and to 186 clinicians working at the University Hospital of Trondheim. It was considered especially important for us to include general practitioners. As the result of a government decision taken at the end of 1994, autopsies requested by general practitioners on patients dying outside hospitals have from January 1995 been covered by national health insurance. Answers were obtained from 250 doctors: 110 general practitioners and 140 hospital physicians. One hundred and seventy-nine (73.1%, n=245) felt that the possibility of having autopsies performed was of great importance in their daily work. Autopsy was considered to be a very important means of quality assurance in the health care system by 158 (66.4%, n=238). One hundred and two (41.2%, n=247) answered that improvements in medicine and technology during the last decades had not reduced the importance of autopsy. One hundred and twenty-two (81.3%, n=150) felt that especially computer tomography (CT) had reduced the value of autopsy. Among the general practitioners, 73 (68.9%, n=106) welcomed the opportunity to have non-forensic autopsies performed on patients who died outside hospitals. Our study showed differences in the attitudes of clinicians towards autopsies, but our results still indicate that the value of autopsy for furthering clinical knowledge is acknowledged by most clinicians.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Autopsy* / standards
  • Humans
  • Medical Records / standards
  • Norway
  • Pathology, Clinical / standards
  • Pathology, Clinical / trends*
  • Personnel, Hospital*
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires