Altman, Lawrence K. "Diagnoses and the Autopsies Are Found to Differ Greatly," New York
Times, 14 October 1998, p. A14.
"A new study has found a substantial discrepancy between the number of cancers detected during
life and those found in autopsies. Despite advances in medical technology, the disparity between
the diagnoses of cancer before and after death was 44 percent, similar to that found in studies
conducted in earlier decades, said the authors."
That lead paragraph pretty much says it all and the implications are important: in this age of CAT
scans and hi-tech medicine (all that expensive diagnostic hardware), physicians are doing just
about the same job they were doing before the hi-tech crap was delivered by GE. There's lots of
money changing hands but it is no better for the patient in terms of diagnosis.
Moreover, there's been a significant decrease in the number of autopsies performed and the
numbers suggested here are probably low, if anything. "The number of inaccuracies remains
alarmingly high.." That's an alarming conclusion in an age which prides itself on increased
medical care, medical skills. There's been no measurable improvement!
Physicians have assumed that the care now being given patients is better than ever. That's a
convenient assumption and, one result has been that fewer and fewer physicians are having
autopsies performed. They're no checking on themselves. And the implications for public health
are enormous: death certificates are but a poor measure of health when there is no autopsy.
Do pathologists notify the decedent's family of findings? No they do not. Physicians who make
mistakes have their mistakes covered by the profession .