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Death and Teaching Autopsy (review article)

Author(s): M. Bahador

Journal: Tehran University Medical Journal
ISSN 1683-1764

Volume: 64;
Issue: 9;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: Teaching autopsy | death of autopsy | diagnostic error

At the middle of the 20th century, autopsy has a fundamental role in medical education in Iran, guided by the influential Oslerian philosophy “as is your pathology so is your medical practice”. Students not only attended autopsies, but also had learnt to conduct them. In contrast, today the use of autopsy in medical education is falling down to death. Although this falling is worldwide, but the situation in Iran is much worse. Rarely Iranian medical schools deal with educational autopsy and some of them are quite unfamiliar with autopsy. There are several reasons for this declining including sophisticated medical education with autopsy, community attitudes ,clinicians’ and pathologist’ reluctance, hospital concern about legal action, religious attitudes, consent from the family and funding priorities. Even with new diagnostic modalities, autopsy remains an important tool for quality and safety assurance. A systematic review of reports on autopsies from USA, European and Australian hospitals, revealed 9 to 40% (on average 23.5%) of clinically missed diagnoses and managements involving the principal or underlying cause of death. The key roles of hospital autopsies are Improving safety and quality in diagnosis and treatment, Providing benefits to families, Advancing understand-ing of disease, Allowing good programming for emerging disease and frequently seen disease, and Educating medical and allied health professionals. We have concluded that, reversing the decline of autopsies will require cooperative action at several levels of the healthcare system, particularly including clinicians and pathologists and also governmental and financial bodies and legal authorities.
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