June 18, 2015 – Autopsy Rates


Anchor lead:  Nationally, rates of autopsy continue to fall, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Rates of autopsy continue to fall nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.  Jody Hooper, deputy director of autopsy at Johns Hopkins, says there are multiple reasons that support doing an autopsy.

Hooper: One reason to do autopsy is to discover an unexpected cause of death. But I think the purposes of the autopsy are much larger.  The autopsy provides a tremendous educational service to doctors, to trainees.  Another purpose is for the families.  The autopsy can provide a tremendous sense of closure for families.  Frequently when the family makes a decision to put the patient on comfort care for example knowing what was going on with their loved one is important to them. Looking for disease that might affect another family member is another way that that can affect the family.  :31

Hooper says that at Johns Hopkins, autopsies are done on a quarter to a third of patients, but nationally the rate is about 5%. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.