The rate of postmortem examinations (PME) especially in elderly patients is continuously declining, mostly due to the low interest of the medical staff and the reluctance of relatives. We surveyed PME performed over a 20-year period in patients of a geriatric hospital in Israel. The 93 autopsies represent a rate of 2.8% in the first five years which went down to 0.25% in the later years. In 58% of the cases, clinical cause of death was confirmed by the PME. Pulmonary embolism had the lowest confirmation rate, and was more frequently found in females (28%) than in males (10%) (p<0.03). Undiagnosed conditions in the elderly present a clinical challenge that increases with the patient's age. However, despite progress in diagnostic technology, confirmation rates of death causes have not changed much. Therefore, as the age of death rises, it is important to preserve and foster PMEs, the most reliable source of medical evidence.
- Pathological confirmation
- Postmortem examination