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Medicolegal Investigation

Each fellow will be evaluated on all of the following steps in a complete medicolegal investigation. Steps 1-13 are to be completed within 18 hours of the first finding of the dead body; step 14 in the next week; and steps 15 and 16 within a week of those test results becoming available. Steps 17-21 must be undertaken as the court docket demands. 

  1. Notification of the death. 
  2. Disposition of the call. 
  3. Investigation at the scene. 
  4. Relations with the police, rescue squad, relatives, crowd, and media representatives.  
  5. Dispatch of body to morgue.  
  6. Examination in morgue, including identification workup of the unidentified burned, decomposed, mutilated dead body.  
  7. Photography and x-ray of body.  
  8. Autopsy including special procedures for neck, spinal cord, torture, and abused dissections. 
  9. Accountability for personal effects and valuables and pertinent evidence and specimens. 
  10. Selection of specimens for toxicology, serology, microbiology, virology, firearms, arson, trace, and other relevant examinations. 
  11. Proper recognition, collection, preservation, and transmission of evidence. 
  12. Formulation of diagnosis (including a 'pending' diagnosis). 
  13. Execution of legal documents and case protocols. 
  14. Microscopy including selection and interpretation of special stains. 
  15. Interpretation of laboratory results from toxicology, serology, etc., and consultation with specialists in these fields. 
  16. Correlation of all factors in the case in order to formulate the final summary and conclusion as to the cause and manner of death. 
  17. Conferences with police, lawyers, insurers, survivors, etc. including the taking of depositions. 
  18. Response to summons to court. 
  19. Conduct in court and on the stand, especially during direct and cross-examination. 
  20. Development of records and exhibits for court and archival storage. 
  21. Comments to media, public, and other laymen within the setting of medicolegal confidentiality.

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Quick Reference

Forensic Pathology Fellowship
Associate Program Director:
Anna G. McDonald, MD

Tel: 336-713-7149
Fax: 336-716-7595

E-mail Dr. MdDonald

Pathology Department
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Medical Center Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC 27157
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Last Updated: 07-15-2016
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