Since the 1960s, where over half of patients who died in hospitals were autopsied, autopsies performed in hospitals have decreased to 12-15% of patient deaths in academic medical centers and to about 2% in private hospitals.
The benefits of performing an autopsy are numerous, and include improved care for the living, peace of mind for family members, preventative family medical history information, and less costly litigation of malpractice claims. Thus, private companies such as San Francisco based 1-800-Autopsy are expanding to cover the gap left by hospitals, who in an attempt to save costs avoid performing autopsies where possible.
Another reason for the decrease is that fewer patients are dying in hospitals and more in long term care facilities such as nursing homes, and under hospice care.
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