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‘Only 1% of medical students request autopsy’

A new research has shown that only one per cent of medical students request an autopsy on their dead patients, yet believe it’s valuable to…

A new research has shown that only one per cent of medical students request an autopsy on their dead patients, yet believe it’s valuable to medical practice, a pathologist at the University of Ilorin, Prof. Mikhail Olayinka Buhari, has said .

Buhari said this while delivering the 218th inaugural lecture of the university.

 He said many prejudices exist among medical students over autopsy.

“Autopsy rate is very low in this environment, owing largely to the predominant population of Muslims who have a compelling need to bury their dead on the day of death.

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“Our studies demonstrated a lot of prejudice among medical students and clinicians against the practice. 

“Among the students, only 1% had observed/requested any session in the past due to the need to respect the dead, religious belief, personal dislike for procedure, avoidance of litigation, perceived high cost to the relations, possibility of indicting the doctor(s) and a perceived unreliability of the report. 

“The students, however, were willing to support a mandatory attendance of the procedure as a requisite for the award of the MBBS degree,” he noted.  

He added that “Only about 40% of clinicians, the report discovered, frequently requested for autopsy.

“More than 2/3rd rarely attended these sessions, denying themselves the opportunity to learn from it, even when they admitted the reports were valuable to medical practice.”

He said in many centres across Nigeria, there is no policy prescribing the use of autopsy statistics in practice or as a means of assessing the performance of the hospital to heal the sick.

He said despite many changes in the way medicine is practised, autopsy examinations remain a necessity and of great importance for purposes of education, justice and quality of care.

Buhari stressed that there is a need for institutions to generate their own autopsy policies and for various state governments to review the old Coroner law regarding its practice.

While lamenting the magnitude of the challenges posed by kidney diseases, the pathologist harped on the need for the government to create special centres for the management of cancers and kidney disorders which could be established on a geopolitical regional basis.