In-hospital performance of autopsies have decreased to 12-15% of patient deaths in academic medical centers and to about 2% in private hospitals. In the 1960s, over half of the patients who died in hospitals were autopsied. The decrease is largely due to hospital’s attempts to save money. Additionally, fewer patients die in hospitals with an increase in deaths in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, and under hospice care.
The benefits of performing an autopsy are numerous. Among many more, they include improved care for the living, peace of mind for family members, preventative family medical history information, and less costly litigation of medical malpractice claims. Private companies, such as San Francisco based 1-800-Autopsy, have expanded to cover the gap left by hospitals.
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