Lower Autopsy Rate Could Mean Missed Opportunities

//Lower Autopsy Rate Could Mean Missed Opportunities

Lower Autopsy Rate Could Mean Missed Opportunities

We might expect that, if a loved one dies unexpectedly in a hospital, an autopsy would automatically be performed. Unfortunately, this is not so. The policies on autopsies, including when and how they are performed, have evolved over the years so that they seem out of reach for many people who would benefit from them. Fewer autopsies may also result in lower numbers of medical malpractice claims.

Today, about 5 percent of people who die while they are in the hospital undergo autopsies. Approximately 50 years ago, the number was ten times as high. Families of Ohio patients, however, deserve to know why they lost a person close to them.

Insurance companies do not pay for autopsies, because the purpose of health insurance is to treat the living. In addition, the structure of Medicare payments makes it financially advantageous for hospitals to avoid autopsies. These factors, plus a change over 40 years ago that removed autopsy quotas for accredited hospitals, mean that autopsies often are not a clear option for family members who do not know why their loved ones died in the hospital.

Autopsies Could Uncover Failure to Diagnose, Misdiagnosis

When the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reviewed academic studies in 2002, it found that approximately 25 percent of the cases revealed serious errors concerning the cause of death or diagnosis. About 10 percent of the errors may have caused patients’ deaths.

Misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose are all serious diagnostic errors that can go undetected when no autopsy is performed. Doctors may never know what they missed, or how they could have saved a patient’s life. Other patients with the same condition will not benefit from doctors’ increased awareness, either.

Hospitals are not required to perform, or even offer, autopsies. Autopsies typically cost more than $1,000. Even so, an autopsy could answer a family member’s most urgent questions about a loved one’s fate, including whether a doctor or other healthcare provider was negligent or provided the best care possible.

Source: ProPublica, “Without Autopsies, Hospitals Bury Their Mistakes,” Marshall Allen, Dec. 15, 2011.

People interested in learning more about our firm’s legal services, including medical malpractice in Ohio, may ask questions or send us information about a particular case by phone or email. There is no charge for contacting us regarding your inquiry. A member of our medical-legal team will respond within 24 hours.

By |January 17th, 2012|Medical Malpractice|0 Comments

Leave A Comment

Robotic surgery for prostatectomy is no better than manual surgery. https://t.co/6KmcNNte01...11 hours ago
Who should be screened for skin cancer? Our opinion: Doctors should be much more vigilant than these weak... https://t.co/eDpRgKniKE...11 hours ago
One nurse's story. Listen,look and truly care! Sounds so simple yet frequently forgotten.It makes a huge... https://t.co/hnWRBhogNs...12 hours ago
This link contains a couple of interesting articles discussing informed consent when a minor is involved. https://t.co/8NaUy0pBT0...2 days ago
When semi truck shed tires on the highway, nearby motorists are put at risk. https://t.co/Z9MZA9K7vl...2 days ago
RT @HeartNews: Do you know the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack? https://t.co/24tgPunVr3...5 days ago
Arthroscopy for meniscal tear is over-prescribed. Another example of doctors' self-interest getting in the way... https://t.co/nhRfx3b8ms...5 days ago
Tinnitus is common, frequently managed improperly. https://t.co/6u7UW0BtcK...5 days ago
Good summary of how to impose limits on medical records costs. We carefully follow the regulations set forth in... https://t.co/cWaafKrOWc...5 days ago
Concerning news about an increase in later stage prostate cancer in men aged 55-69. https://t.co/BHRK7fs07L...6 days ago