Barbara C. Wolf, M.D. and Wendy A. Lavezzi, M.D., Office of the District 5 Medical Examiner, Leesburg, FL
The field of forensic pathology is exciting and diverse. The news media and the entertainment industry have in recent years brought much attention to forensic investigations and technologies, at times helping to advance the field through public awareness and at other times providing misleading information. The public often turns to the general pathologist for clarification of these issues. Hospital autopsy pathologists routinely encounter cases with forensic implications. They may have to determine whether or a case has medicolegal import, either criminal or civil, and to determine whether a forensic specialist should be consulted. Many hospital autopsy pathologists also perform forensic services within counties that have a coroner's system.
This short course is designed to cover the practical aspects of forensic pathology, using actual cases to illustrate teaching points. Material to be covered includes the determination of the cause, manner, and mechanism of death; proper death certification; the medical examiner system vs. the coroner system; differences in hospital vs. forensic autopsies; the approach to potential medical malpractice cases; and the recognition, collection and preservation of evidence collected at autopsy. The various cases will explore natural deaths, the determination of inflicted injuries vs. accidental injuries, the evaluation of potential cases of child or elder abuse, clinical forensic medicine, the recognition of postmortem artifacts and artifacts due to medical intervention, proper photographic documentation, and the utilization of ancillary personnel, including forensic odontologists and anthropologists. The role of postmortem toxicology and other laboratory studies as well as trace evidence technologies will be emphasized.
The cases to be covered will be available on the USCAP website for registrants to review before the course. A course handout will be provided at the meeting and a follow-up CD with the course information and references will be mailed to registrants following completion of the course.
The course content is designed to provide working tools and useful information to hospital autopsy pathologists, part-time forensic pathologists, forensic fellows, and pathology residents.
After completing this course, participants will: 1) have practical knowledge of currently used techniques in the field of forensics, 2) have a working knowledge of proper death certification, and 3) be able to identify and resolve important medicolegal issues.
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