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Trends of accuracy of clinical diagnoses of the basic cause of death in a university hospital


Aims: To determine the agreement between clinical and necropsy diagnoses of the basic cause of death, and to compare the results with those obtained in a previous study carried out at the same university hospital.

Methods: In total, 4828 necropsies, performed between 1990 and 1995 in the University Hospital of the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil, were reviewed. Examinations were concluded at the macroscopic part of the necropsy in nearly 35% of the cases. Statistical analysis was carried out using the κ coefficient comparing the clinical diagnosis and the diagnosis obtained after necropsy. The jackknife method was used to identify comparable κ values for the comparison of the two periods.

Results: Compared with the 1978–80 period, a significant increase in diagnostic agreement was seen for the group submitted to complete necropsy, whereas no similar increase was detected when only the macroscopic step was analysed.

Conclusions: There was a discrete tendency to an improved correlation between clinical and postmortem data stated by full necropsy analysis. The findings show that microscopic analysis remains important to confirm the cause of death in many cases. Diagnostic discrepancies remained high, and therefore complete necropsy continues to be an essential instrument for the assessment of clinical diagnosis.

  • clinical diagnoses
  • autopsy
  • necropsy
  • accuracy
  • error
  • HCFMRP-USP, University Hospital of the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo
  • ICD, International Classification of Diseases

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