Autopsies and Death Certificates in the Chronic Care Setting

F. Michael Gloth, John R. Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


All autopsies (n = 34) performed over a period from July 1, 1981 to June 30, 1988 in a teaching nursing home were reviewed to determine the autopsy rate, to evaluate premortem versus postmortem diagnostic discrepancies, and to see if educational efforts could improve each. The autopsy rate was 3.5%. Major discrepancies appeared in 47.1% of cases. Pneumonia was the most frequent and most frequently missed diagnosis. Only 23 of 34 death certificates reflected the cause of death as documented in the chart, and only 12 had concordant diagnoses with those from autopsy. After a collective educational effort, the autopsy rate increased from a rate (average of initial six years) of 2.4% to 10.8% in the last year. The autopsy rate is low, but can be improved with educational efforts. Death certificates, in this population, may be misleading when used for general statistical purposes. 1990 The American Geriatrics Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-155
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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