AIMS: To study the views of general practitioners on the quality and utility of autopsy reports, and on autopsies in general. METHODS: For a period of six months, a questionnaire was enclosed with each autopsy report sent to a general practitioner from the mortuary at Manchester Royal Infirmary. RESULTS: Most (93.3%) general practitioners found the autopsy report useful, and many (66.7%) thought the bereaved relatives would do so too. However, only a minority (25.2%) would discuss the report with the relatives. A considerable proportion (20.0%) found the cause of death surprising, and a significant number (10.4%) felt the report would modify their future clinical practice. There was approval of autopsies in general, with most (88.6%) agreeing that autopsies reveal lesions not detected in life, and many (74.4%) indicating that loss of the autopsy would impair severely the monitoring of clinical standards. CONCLUSIONS: General practitioners appreciate autopsy reports, which may have a significant impact on clinical practice. Autopsy reports provide both case audit and information for relatives.
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