Forensic Pathology Autopsy-When is a Body Autopsied?

Forensic Pathology Autopsy-When is a Body Autopsied?

You have seen all the gore associated with dead bodies in the TV show CSI when the forensic medical examiner cuts open the stiffs and exposes the meaty entrails of the deceased.

In reality, when is a dead body autopsied? Under what circumstances is a death reported to a medical examiner (ME) for investigation?

The investigation of any kind of death by the forensic medical examiner occurs in any of the following situations:

Traumatic death: Death that occurs from an accidental, homicidal or self-inflicted injury.

Unusual death: Death that occurs in unnatural or suspicious circumstances.

Sudden death: Death that occurs within a few hours from the beginning of any symptoms.

Unexpected death: Death that takes place in somebody who does not show symptoms.

Different jurisdictions have varying laws governing situations in which a medical examiner autopsies a body. In most cases, about 1 percent of the population dies annually. Approximately, one quarter of those deaths are investigated by a medical examiner. In many deaths, it is the attending physician for the deceased individual who signs the death certificate. When a physician who has cared for the deceased person feels that the death was suspicious, a medical examiner may intervene to investigate.

Whenever you hear the term reportable death on CSI, what that means is that the death is referred to the medical examiner for investigation. Situations that compose a reportable death differ among jurisdictions. The following are common scenarios in which a death is reported to the ME for a forensic autopsy:

Violent deaths such as accidents, homicides, or suicides
Deaths that take place in the workplace, usually resulting from traumatic circumstances, poisoning, or chemical exposure
Suspicious, sudden, or unexpected deaths
Deaths that take place while in prison or while the individual was under arrest
Deaths that take place within 24 hours of entering a hospital, when the individual is admitted while unconscious and never wakes up, or when unattended by a doctor
Deaths that take place during surgery
Deaths that take place during an abortion procedure performed by medical personnel, the pregnant individual, or by an illegal manner
Before the discarding of a dead body via cremation or burial at sea
At the direction of the court
Whenever somebody discovers a known or unknown cadaver

Autopsies are not always performed when any of these scenarios takes place. It is up to the ME to make that determination. Whenever scrutinizing a case, the ME has several choices to make for handling it:

He may not perform an autopsy and deem the death due to natural causes
He may conduct a partial autopsy or hasten a full-blown autopsy
or he may conduct a full-blown forensic autopsy

It is his decision.

If the cause of death is obvious, and the situations involving the death are not questionable, the ME may concur with the reports given to him by the victim’s physicians before signing and issuing a death certificate.

Fabiola Castillo is an online marketer for the website NinjaCOPS SuperStore. This virtual store specializes in crime prevention tools where you can buy cheap stun guns, kubaton keychains, hidden video spy surveillance cameras, nunchaku training videos, civilian Tasers, expandable steel batons, and many other personal safety products.

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