An analysis of the frequency of post-mortem examinations was conducted in the paediatric age group. Among the factors found to influence necropsy rates were (i) age at death, the frequency of necropsy decreasing with age; (ii) cause of death, necropsy frequency varying with major diagnostic groups; (iii) investigation conducted before death, necropsy frequency decreasing when the clinical picture was ill-defined; and (iv) place of death, necropsy being less frequent when death occurred outside hospital. These findings imply (a) that necropsy practices may be governed by habit and convenience as well as by desire to complete the clinical picture, and (b) that more equitable balances in such practices should be sought if there is to be improvement in the quality of mortality data.
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