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What Autopsies Can Teach
The Wall Street Journal

Medical mysteries lurk in every family, yet the autopsies that could reveal them have become increasingly rare.

Although coroners and medical examiners still investigate suspicious deaths, fewer than 5% of people who die in hospitals are autopsied today, down from 50% in the 1960s, according to government surveys. The decline in autopsies has slowed scientific advances in diseases including cancer, dementia and heart disease, researchers say. It also has left some surviving families in the dark about medical issues that could affect their own health.

Studies routinely show that when autopsies are performed, 10% to 30% reveal previously undiagnosed medical issues. Such discoveries can provide valuable information to survivors even years later.

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