Among the various types of medical malpractice suffered by hospital patients, misdiagnosis accounts for approximately 10% of patient deaths. In a recent Opinion Page from the New York Times, Sandeep Jauhar, a Long Island cardiologist, wants to Bring Back the Autopsy as a weapon to fight misdiagnosis.
With the evolution of medicine and the proliferation of medical tests, autopsy doesn’t seem as essential these days as it was in the past to determine the cause of death of a patient. Before 1971, community hospitals were required to perform autopsies on 20% of their dead patients to earn their accreditation from the Joint Commission. This requirement was dropped after that date. Furthermore in 1986, Medicare considered autopsies financially draining and stopped paying for them. Now an autopsy is mostly considered by doctors as an educational tool.
Recent studies however have demonstrated that despite the medical technological advances autopsy can be a very effective manner to reduce the rate of hospital misdiagnosis. In his opinion Sandeep Jauhar suggests that Medicare and private insurers pay for them again so that financial considerations doesn’t limit their use.