From its earliest forerunners in Egyptian mummification and the influence of Herophilus and Galen in ancient Greece, the autopsy has deep roots in the historical effort to understand the human body. Advances in modern post-mortem examination technique, such as non-invasive imaging, will continue to shape the structure and role of the autopsy as it evolves and changes into the future.
The autopsy is a major aspect of the practice of medicine which is used to audit the effectiveness of clinical practice and assist the law courts in the adjudication of cases in which deaths occurred in suspicious circumstances in order to guarantee a safe society, prevent secret homicide, premature deaths and avoid miscarriage of justice.
Practical, legal and ethical aspects of the molecular autopsy method are also discussed. Early diagnosis by genetic testing will force lifestyle modifications in individuals with genetic risk factors, which alone or in combination with other therapeutic options may delay the onset of the disease.
On-site examinations at autopsy in forensic practice are discussed. Since such “on-site” examinations are simple and not time-consuming, the results can be obtained promptly and may be useful for forensic diagnosis.
Autopsy rates have dramatically declined in the last several decades. As such, the authors explore the myriad of aspects that may be contributing to this downward trend.
At a societal level, autopsies play a crucial role in public health and the justice system. They are necessary in understanding the causes and course of epidemic outbreaks and recognizing the emergence of new diseases.
The goal of the concluding chapter is to examine religious beliefs around death and common reasons why religion may be invoked when deciding not to consent to an autopsy. Religions that will be examined include Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Christian Science, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witness, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
(Imprint: Nova Medicine and Health)