The Slow, Troubling Death of the Autopsy


Published on MedED:  22 October 2020
Type of article: Summary
Sources: Elemental
A decline in autopsies being carried out in US Hospitals, would seem counter-intuitive, given the current pandemic sweeping the country.
And yet, according to Samuel Ashworth, journalist, teacher and regular contributor to the Washington Post, that’s exactly what is happening. 
According to Ashworth, in the late 1960’s the autopsy rate in U.S Hospitals was nearly 60%.  Today however that number is only 4.3%. 
In his article - the Slow, Troubling Death of the Autopsy – he takes an in-depth look into the reasons behind the steep decline.  
What he finds is somewhat troubling. As Dr Siddartha Mukherjee author and physician commented, when asked for his opinion regarding the decline, “Hospitals have essentially become giant billing machines. But unlike other hospital procedures, an autopsy has no billing code. If something cannot be billed for, it exists in an administrative twilight zone”.
In support of Mukherjee’s statement, Harold Sanchez, MD an assistant professor of pathology at Yale University School of Medicine also states, “No financial incentives currently exist for either the hospital or the pathologist to perform autopsies, because reforms in health care coverage and reimbursement have essentially eliminated direct funding for autopsies altogether.
But surely finances cannot be the only reason for this sharp decline? Or could it?

Access the original article here

The Slow, Troubling Death of the Autopsy
Contributor: Aldeen van der Walt
Aldeen van der Walt previously worked in Dead Body Management Education, at the Forensic Unit of the International Committee of the Red Cross. She is passionate about anthropology and forensic pathology, and is committed to raising the profile and access to the forensic pathology education across the Sub-Saharan African region.

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