A hospital corridor. Photo: Mika Koskelainen/SR Gotland

Professor: fewer autopsies means less knowledge

Far fewer clinical autopsies are performed nowadays than there used to be, and some see this as cause for worry.

In clinical autopsies pathologists ascertain the cause of death for people who have died naturally. In the 70s, nearly 80 percent of patients who died in a Swedish hospital undersent autopsies. However, today, autopsies are only conducted on about five to ten percent of everyone who dies in Sweden, according to Swedish Radio Uppland.

Irina Alafuzoff, a professor in neuropathology and the head of pathology at Uppsala University Hospital, believes that in the long run, this development could spell danger. She says autopsies are important for learning important information about medicines and whether they have had a negative impact, as well as the processes of illness.

Autopsies also make certain the cause of death. Alafuzoff says some even go to their grave with the wrong diagnosis, and that if this is the case, relatives may have the wrong information about what potential health problems they might inherit.

According Alafuzoff, the reason why so few clinical autopsies are performed today boils down to a lack of money and too few pathologists.

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