The Doctors Whose Patients Are Already Dead

From Rachel Wilkinson at The Atlantic:

The man had died eight hours earlier at a hospital in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) hospital system, where the pathologist Jeffrey Nine directs the autopsy service. Nine suspects the man died of a heart attack, but the family wants to be sure, so Nine, his chief pathology resident, and two students training as pathologists’ assistants set to work performing an autopsy. (The man’s family wasn’t told that I would be present at his autopsy, but Nine made sure to shield me from any details that might identify the man.)

Families request autopsies for a number of reasons: They want closure; they want to see what role genetics played in someone’s death and how it might affect them in the future; they feel guilty and wonder if there’s anything they or their doctors could’ve done differently. Nine says that most of the time, there isn’t.

Read the rest here.