Journal Article

Autopsy as a quality control measure for radiology, and vice versa.

Murken DR; Ding M; Branstetter BF IV; Nichols L.

The declining rate of traditional autopsies in the United States has spurred interest in virtual autopsy—performing full-body radiologic imaging after death in order to identify possible diagnostic errors. To assess the accuracy of both radiologic and pathologic diagnoses, this study directly compared diagnoses obtained at autopsy to results of imaging studies performed in the prior 30 days. Interestingly, the authors found cases where autopsies missed diagnoses that had been previously noted on imaging tests, as well as cases where the premortem radiologic diagnosis proved to be incorrect at autopsy. The authors advocate for routinely comparing pathologic and radiologic diagnoses as a mutual quality assurance mechanism. An autopsy diagnosis that was missed on an initial radiograph is discussed in this AHRQ WebM&M commentary.