The Final Diagnosis
While autopsies are among the most reliable methods of validating clinical diagnoses they have been steadily declining. In the 1940s, the rate of autopsies was about 50%. By the mid-1980s, the rate had dropped to between 10% and 15%. The reasons for the decline include the fact that autopsies are costly and not reimbursable, too heavy reliance on modern technology such as MRI and CAT scans, and the hospitals’ fears of litigation.
The following chapters tell the human and medical stories behind autopsy cases. Like a good mystery, each one is salted with clues to assist the reader in deducing the final cause of death, revealed only at the end. I hope you will find the case histories intriguing, that they will reward you with new insights about the causes of death and how they relate to those dear to you.
- Claire Datnow, April 2011
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