Forensic pathology

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Forensic pathology is a branch of pathology concerned with determining the cause of death by examination of a corpse. The autopsy is performed by the pathologist at the request of a coroner or medical examiner usually during the investigation of criminal law cases and civil law cases in some jurisdictions. Forensic pathologists are also frequently asked to confirm the identity of a corpse.

The word forensics is derived from the Latin forēnsis meaning forum.[1]

Contents

Scope of forensic pathology

The forensic pathologist:

  • Is a medical doctor who has completed training in anatomical pathology and who has subsequently sub-specialized in forensic pathology. The requirements for becoming a 'fully qualified' forensic pathologist varies from country to country. Some of the different requirements are discussed below.
  • Performs autopsies/post mortem examinations to determine the cause of death. The autopsy report contains an opinion about :
    • The pathologic process, injury, or disease that directly results in or initiates a series of events which lead to a person's death (also called mechanism of death), such as a bullet wound to the head, exsanguination due to a stab wound, manual or ligature strangulation, myocardial infarction due to coronary artery disease, etc.), and
    • The 'manner of death', the circumstances surrounding the cause of death, which in most jurisdictions include:

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