Why perform an autopsy on James Gandolfini?

Doctors know he died of a heart attack, right? And he's not actually Tony Soprano, so the chances of someone secretly killing him and making it look like a heart attack are small. So what's the point? Accuracy, says David Dobbs at Nautilus. Research shows that doctors make a lot of mistakes when it comes to assessing death. Fifteen-to-thirty percent of the time, diagnoses of death are incorrect. Five-to-ten percent of the time, that mistake contributed to the patient's death.


  1. If they made mistakes the insurance companies can sue the hospital.  It’s a lot cheaper than paying a however much he’s worth.  The great circle of love.

    1. This. And it should be here too. In the US it’s optional and so families tend not to do them. My grandmother, whom I cared for near the end of her life, had (what we suspect was) Alzheimer’s disease. But the only way to be sure was through autopsy. My mother and aunt decided it would be “disrespectful” to do one and so she was buried without any of her heirs knowing for certain whether she had Alzheimer’s–known to run in families–or some other dementia.

      1. My dad dropped dead one day mowing the yard, at age 64.  Dead or unconscious, he rode the lawn tractor he was on across the road and down an embankment, rolling it over. It landed on him, breaking his neck. So he was dead no matter if he survived the precipitating medical event. The coroner (an elected official in Kentucky, usually a funeral home director) declared his death  ultimately an accident, secondary to a heart attack. He said he’s seen enough heart attacks to know.  But given my father’s medical history it didn’t make much sense.  He was at a good weigh , very fit, good blood lipids, no heart related issues other than moderate, but treated HPB, his mom died at 96, etc. Mom didn’t want an autopsy, but me and my siblings were terrified of what not knowing for sure it might mean for us. So we leaned on Mom a little, Turns out he had a spontaneous aortic dissection from an aneurysm , the same thing that killed John Ritter. Now we know what happened and my doctor knows what to look out for. I get a chest echo every other year and I don’t worry like I might otherwise do. Autopsies are our friends.

      2.  Problem is, autopsies cost a considerable amount. And, typically, autopsy coverage isn’t included in most insurance policies, leaving the family to foot the full bill for the procedure.

  2.  I thought they always did an autopsy when a person dies outside the hospital. Just to be sure. Which I guess is what this article is about.

  3. he had the American code in his voice, the real code, and it is dangerous to those who want to dismantle that America in order to pave the way for the international “coolie-ization” of all but the highest financial classes.

  4. …researchers perform or collect data from
    post-mortem dissections…These studies reliably find
    something rather shocking…and 5 to 10 percent of the time,
    that diagnostic error probably helped kill the


    1.  The post-mortem often shows that the diagnosis their doctor gave them *when alive* was wrong.  And occasionally they find that different tests, maybe a more observant or communicative doctor for example, might have prevented the death. (Although it’s easy for somebody doing an autopsy to blame a doctor who had less complete information, since the doc didn’t get to cut them open.)

      So doing post-mortems gives us a lot more data about actual symptoms vs cause of death correlations.  This could potentially improve and refine medical care and how certain symptoms are treated.

      1. The post-mortem often shows that the diagnosis their doctor gave them *when alive* was wrong.

        My grandafther died at 58 from a heart attack. His doctor had been telling him for years that he just had indigestion. My dad survived his heart attack at 63, by the way because his girlfriend drove him to hospital. My grandfather would rather die than let anybody drive him anywhere.

  5. >>Fifteen-to-thirty percent of the time, diagnoses of death are incorrect. 

    Usually they’re pretty certain someone is dead by the time rigor mortis sets in.

      1. If you seem so dead that you are assumed dead I’m not so sure it is good news that you are alive.

  6. I think we all know the real reason. How often do you get to play around with James Gandolfini’s umbles?

  7. Those wanting the full money on the autopsy problem, see my “Buried Answers” at link below. Includes bonus description of a specific autopsy. Ever wonder how they remove the brain? Now you’ll know.


Comments are closed.