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Forensic pathology is a branch of medicine concerned with determining cause of death, usually for criminal law cases and civil law cases in some jurisdictions. The word forensics is derived from the Latin forēnsis meaning public or forum. The word pathology literally means study of suffering.
Additional recommended knowledge
Scope of Forensic Pathology
The Forensic pathologist:
In an Autopsy, he /she is often assisted by an autopsy/mortuary technician (sometimes called a Diener in the USA).
Forensic physicans (sometimes referred to as 'Forensic Medical Examiners' or 'Police Surgeons' (in the UK until recently)) are medical doctors trained in the examination of, and provision of medical treatment to, living victims of assault (including sexual assault) and those individuals who find themselves in police custody. Many forensic physicians in the UK practice clinical forensic medicine on a part-time basis, whilst they also practice family medicine, or another medical specialty.
Investigation of death
Deaths where the cause is not known and those considered unnatural are investigated. In most jurisdictions this is done by coroner, medical examiner, or hybrid medical examiner- coroner offices.
Terminology is not consistent across jurisdictions
In some jurisdictions, the title of "Medical Examiner" is used by a non-physician, elected official involved in medicolegal death investigation. In others, the law requires the medical examiner to be a physician, pathologist, or forensic pathologist.
Similarly, the title "Coroner" is applied to both physicians and non-physicians. Historically, coroners were not all physicians (most often serving primarily as the town mortician). However, in some jurisdictions the title of "Coroner" is exclusively used by physicians.
In Canada, coroners are licensed physicians, usually family physicians.
Coroners and medical examiner in the US
In the United States, a coroner is typically an elected public official in a particular geographic jurisdiction who investigates and certifies deaths. The vast majority of coroners lack a Doctor of Medicine degree and the amount of medical training that they have received is highly variable, depending on their profession (e.g. law enforcement, judges, funeral directors, firefighters, nurses).
In contrast, a medical examiner is typically a physician who holds the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Ideally, a medical examiner has completed both a pathology residency (medicine) and a fellowship in forensic pathology.
He or she may also be board certified by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic (and sometimes Clinical) and Forensic Pathology. This entails passing separate examinations in anatomic pathology and forensic pathology. To be eligible for the American Board of Pathology's board examinations, a candidate must demonstrate that he or she has completed training in anatomic pathology and forensic pathology at programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
Forensic pathology literaly means the study of suffering.
History in United States
Forensic pathology was first recognized in the USA by the American Board of Pathology in 1959.
Becoming a forensic pathologist
Forensic pathology is a subspecialty of anatomical pathology and forensic pathologists complete at least one year of additional training (a fellowship) after a general pathology residency. Becoming an anatomical pathologist requires completing a three to five year residency in anatomical pathology, which is something one does on completing medical school. In Canada and UK, anatomical pathology is a five year residency. In the US, anatomic pathology (as it is called) by itself is a three-year residency. Most pathologists complete a combined residency in both anatomic and clinical pathology, which requires a total of four years. The majority of pathologists also complete at least one additional year of fellowship training in a subspecialty area.
In the United States, all told, the education after high school is typically 13 years in duration (4 years undergraduate training + 4 years medical school + 4 years residency (in anatomic and clinical pathology) + 1 year forensic pathology fellowship). Generally, the biggest hurdle is gaining admission to medical school, although the failure rate for anatomic and forensic pathology board examinations (in the U.S.) is approximately 30-40 and 40-50 percent, respectively.
Becoming a pathologist
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Forensic_pathology". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|