Routine autopsies have become less common in the U.S. But in the past century, post-mortems helped doctors discover many new diseases. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com

Death investigations among seniors are often skipped, leaving the growing population vulnerable to neglect and abuse. Andres Cediel/Frontline hide caption

itoggle caption Andres Cediel/Frontline

Unlike the medical examiner's office in New Mexico, which routinely autopsies sudden or violent deaths, most U.S. hospitals perform postmortem examinations only rarely. John W. Poole/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption John W. Poole/NPR