Amid National Decline In Autopsies, Doctors Reaffirm The Procedure's Importance

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Shraddha Patel, a first year pathology resident, weighs organs during an autopsy. (Irina Zhorov/The Pulse)

Hospitals used to be required to perform autopsies on at least 20 percent of patients who died on premises. But in 1970 the requirement was lifted and autopsy numbers have been falling ever since.

Not counting patients who died of external causes, like car accidents, hospitals autopsied an average of just 3.9 percent of patients in 2014.

It can be hard to ask families to sign off on the procedure. Insurance often doesn’t cover it, and technology has made doctors increasingly trusting in their diagnoses. Still, many doctors are pushing for more autopsies.

Irina Zhorov (@zhorovir) of Here & Now contributor WHYY attended one to learn why.

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