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

WTOL : Law enforcement cracking down on drivers using phone at the wheel https://t.co/EQhkJ8TJsT...24 hours
Abbott Heartmate II heart pump recall announced. https://t.co/d6xsNiUk32...1 day
David Kulwicki and Howard Mishkind volunteered at the Legal Clinic at Glenville High School on May 18, 2017. A... https://t.co/4W0ntHccQe...1 week
Diabetes drug Invokana implicated in loss of foot and leg. https://t.co/uOPagBgbZo...1 week
John Oliver targets dialysis, a procedure that’s exhausting, deadly, and very profitable https://t.co/iT4Vn8cCwE...1 week
We are pleased to announce that David Kulwicki has been named to the National Trial Lawyers' Brain Injury Trial... https://t.co/Fa6u0tS5jD...2 weeks
Caregivers' poor communication skills are at the heart of many medical malpractice cases. https://t.co/5gJYAF5p6b...2 weeks
Breast implants are implicated in a rare cancer. https://t.co/FDR5SC9l0o...2 weeks
U.S. maternal mortality rate is on the rise. https://t.co/5B4vbOFhk9...2 weeks
Prevention of underride collisions is simple. https://t.co/bh8r2f2Dza...2 weeks