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'Autopsies' dissected

A recent survey done to study the accuracy of autopsy reports have shown that one –fourth of all autopsies done in England is flawed and quite inaccurate. It's sad to note that unlike popular belief a death certificate // may not actually have the last say regarding the cause of death of an individual.

The enquiry done by The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) which functions under the auspices of the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) has revealed that very often the cause of death of elderly individuals is overlooked and not scrutinized carefully during a post mortem as compared to the cause of death of a relatively younger individual. Much too often pathologists refrain from making a careful external examination of the body before being opened up, the survey has revealed.

Since the public are ignorant of such glaring lacunas in routine autopsies done day to day it is not surprising that they have not yet raised a hue and cry over this issue.

The data collected by NCEPOD was collected during seven days in May 2005 from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

The study declared that 26 per cent were deplorable, half were reasonable and just 23 per cent could be termed as an excellent report.This report chiefly studied autopsies that were done on the order of coroners for individuals who died outside hospital premises which at times include care homes.


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