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Some Addenda on the Role of Today's Autopsy

Victor Knapp, MD
JAMA. 1965;194(11):1258. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090240091039.
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To the Editor:—  Extension of the postmortem exercise to include an answer to two questions would add inestimable value to it. "Could we have changed the outcome?" and "Which diagnostic investigations were helpful?"There is an urgent need for a critical review of treatment at autopsy conferences, for then it has an immediacy lacking at other times. We treated the patient to no avail; Why? We are all aware that in many instances the patient comes to us at a time when his disease has reached an irreversible stage. When we recognize this we must decide which measures to use to assure comfort, and to learn by experience which have not contributed to effective treatment. When we find that alleviation or cure was possible, and we failed, we may discover the reasons by a thorough review of the treatment employed. It is not too much to expect that sound judgment


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