Forensic Science Autopsy Procedures
What’s left: • Friday- Autopsy procedures • Wednesday- Forensic Biology Unit TEST • Thursday- Pig Autopsy • Monday- Final Exam
You should have back: • Diagramming Injuries and Using Medical Terminology (stapled together -20 points) • Insect Evidence Packet- 70 points • All Skeletal Evidence assignments are due TODAY
Forensic File • Which skull in the picture is an example of an Asian skull? • What characteristics do you look for to make this determination?
Autopsy • Postmortem examination of the body, including dissection of the corpse • There are two systems of death investigators in the US: the coroner system and the medical examiner system • Coroner is typically an elected positions • Medical examiners are medical doctors who may also be forensic pathologists. They are appointed by the state’s governor. • A forensic pathologist is a medical doctor who is trained to identify why and how someone died & present those findings to the court • The primary goal of a medical examiner is to determine cause and manner of death.
Steps to a death investigation • Step one: preliminary investigation at the death scene • Death investigator is employed by coroner/medical examiner’s office. Responsible for initial assessment of body/death scene. • Photographs and sketches body at scene • Document any signs of trauma • Make observations to help medical examiner make TOD determination • Time between death and discovery: postmortem interval (PMI) • At scene they look for obvious signs of decomposition • Also look for scene markers- nonbiological evidence that provides clues to TOD • Assessment of scene, collection of evidence, documentation and delivery to lab • Death investigators also interview witnesses and victim’s family
Steps to a death investigation • Step two: medical examination of body • Assigned a case number, update chain of custody • External examination: clothing, completes external examination, and X rays. Then examined for any biological and nonbiological evidence. • Autopsy- determine body temp, removes and examines the following structures: brain, larynx, hyoid bone, heart and lungs. • If a victim has been strangled, hyoid bone is usually broken • Collects samples of blood, urine and bile. • Then internal organs are removed and the mass of each is measured • Stomach contents are analyzed • Tissue samples are collected from various organs for DNA and toxicology screenings
Steps to death investigation • Step 3: Laboratory tests • Toxicology- detection of drugs, alcohol and/or poisons • Histology- study of tissues. Tissue is sliced very thinly, stained and studied under the microscope for abnormalities • Neuropathology- study of disease and trauma associated with the nervous system. More than half of all deaths are associated with the nervous system, most often the brain. • Serology- study of blood, semen and other bodily fluids
Autopsy reports • The medical examiner is responsible for all autopsy reports • Responsible for testifying at court with relation to autopsy findings • Parts of reportHeading: name, age, gender of victim • External examination: all findings from external exam including diagrams. Includes overall description of victim, full description of body • Evidence of injury: external and internal injuries • Internal examination: weighs and describes each organ noting any abnormalities • Medical examiner’s findings and opinion: summarizes findings and gives his or her own opinion