Medical Examination

28 03 2010

Q

A teenager was found dead one day. The parents have no idea why their child is dead. They want to find out the cause of death and the manner of death. What should they do?

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A

They should request medical examination. External and internal autopsies will be done to figure out the cause and the manner of death.

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Medical Examination is the first thing done when the corpse arrives in the laboratory. The first thing the medical examiner does is an external autopsy; they look for clues on the outside of the body. This is done, because in most cases, what can be found on the outside can be more helpful than what can be found on the inside. Then, internal autopsy is done. The examiner looks at the internal organs to find out if he/she had a disease or damage. Many years of training in medical school must be done to become a forensic pathologist, as I said on a post that I wrote before.

First, before you start any autopsy process, you need to put on protective materials, such as gloves, eye protection, surgical clothes, etc.

Autopsy is a very complicated process, that requires a good stomach. You will be able to find a good amount of disgusting pictures if you type “forensic autopsy” on google! The autopsy always begins with a Y-incision. Next, you will remove the rib cage and expose the inner organs. You will use the rib cutter to do so. Then, you will extract some blood to use as samples for the toxicology lab.  You will poke the syringe through the heart for extraction. You will then use a technique called Rokitansky’s technique. All organs will be removed together and further dissected outside the body. Scalpel will be used to carry out this process. Then, you will need to observe the brain for signs of trauma. You will first have to expose the skull. Stryker saw will be used. Now, all necessary organs are removed. They can be now studied individually in more detail. You will weigh all organs and cut them open. Observing the organs will lead you to figure out what the cause of death is. After you figure out the cause of death, you will also have to figure out the manner of death. Manner of death is what describes how the cause of death occurred.

There are five choices

  1. Natural
  2. Homicide
  3. Suicide
  4. Accidental
  5. Undetermined

1. Natural

Natural death is sudden or unexpected death cause by disease, usually by heart disease, brain system disorder, and nervous system disorders. It can occur at any age. It is seen in 38% of cases

2. Homicide

It is death caused by another person, intentionally or accidentally. If it was accidental, it is not considered a murder. It is determined by the court. It is seen in 9% of cases.

3. Suicide

Suicide is self-caused death. Usually, suicide committers have psychological problems. It is seen in 9% of cases.

4. Accidental

Accidental death is the most common manner of death. It is used if death was unintentional or unavoidable. It is seen in 40% of cases.

5. Undetermined

Undetermined deaths are deaths that do not have certain circumstances surrounding. This is usually temporary classification until the investigation is complete. It is see in 4% of cases as their final decision.

Even before medical examination, the body can tell us many things about when someone died.

  1. Algor Mortis
  2. Rigor Mortis
  3. Livor Mortis

1. Algor Mortis

Algor mortis is the body temperature. After death, the body cools down at a certain rate until it reaches the surrounding temperature. We insert the thermometer into the liver to accurately measure the internal body temperature.

2. Rigor Mortis

Rigor mortis is the stiffening of the muscles. As time passes, the body will become stiff. Later, It will become so stiff that it won’t be able to be moved

3. Livor Mortis

Livor mortis is the discoloration of the body. Lower areas will turn dark blue or purple, because that is where the blood settles.

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Forensic Photographer

16 03 2010

When you see crime scenes on TV, you can see people taking pictures here and there.

Photography is simply an art of taking and processing photographs. However, FORENSIC photography is a little bit different. Forensic Photography is an art of reproducing an accurate image of the crime scene for the laboratory and the court.

Forensic Photographers take pictures of…

  • Crime scenes
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Bitemarks
  • Weapons
  • Trace evidence
  • Autopsy procedures

(From www.all-about-forensic-science.com)

Forensic Photographers help out the process of investigation by supporting the laboratory by documenting and enhancing the evidence. You should not think that it is an easy job of just taking random pictures of the crime scene. Documentation of evidence is extremely important in the whole process of investigation. If the photographer misses an evidence, that changes the fate of the victim. You need a high level of responsibility to do this work. The most important things that the photographer should take pictures of are bloodstains and cuts. The overall picture of all evidence collected together are taken, and important evidences are taken as closeups. The important evidence is, as I said, the bloodstains and cuts.

Also, the forensic photographers require special techniques. Sometimes, the evidence is too small that photomacrography, a technique using bellows to increase magnification, has to come into place. There are lots of other techniques, including alternate spectrums, which is a technique used to see evidences in different lights in order to see them in a most clear state, and using infrared film for gun shot residue on clothing.

Like all most of other forensic jobs, you need a strong stomach. Sometimes, you will have to take pictures of victims that are very inhumanely distorted due to an attack. Also, you need to know the court procedure, for you are the one who will be presenting the evidence to the jury.

In order to perform all the special tricks, it is best if you major in photography. You will get to encounter advanced technology as you take pictures at crime scenes, since you will always have the best equipment. And yes, the equipment costs a lot. However, since it is an important job that requires a good quality, you need to be ready to invest that money.

This is a video that helps us understand what the career in forensic photography really is.





How much money do forensic scientists, in general, earn a year?

15 03 2010

Even though you might say that money isn’t the most important thing in life, money is very important. This is why many people are interested in the average amount of money that they can earn when they get employed to do a specific job.

This video is not the most exciting video, but it is very informative. It says that the forensic scientists earn $30000 per year on average. However, it may vary depending on your job in the forensic field. You will get more salary depending on your job, area, experience, etc.

This video also tells us what you should do to become a forensic scientist. You can major in biology, chemistry, criminology, or even law. There are people specializing in many different fields. I know that it is little compared to other jobs people can do when they major in the same subjects. You can earn more money as a pathologist than a forensic pathologist, you can earn more money as a physicist than a forensic physicist, and you can earn more money as a biologist than a forensic biologist.

Go here to find out specific details about forensic science.





Forensic Pathologist

3 03 2010

Pathology is the study of disease. Forensic Pathologists are specialists in medical field concerned with pathology that focuses on the investigation of sudden or unexpected death of victims.

The pathologists …

  • Determine cause of death
  • Do forensic examination of the body
  • Identify absence/presence of disease from tissue samples
  • Examine post mortem wounds and injuries
  • Collect evidence to give to criminalists, toxicologists, or others for specialist analysis
  • Carry out investigation with other speicialists
  • Act as an expert witness in civil or criminal proceedings

(From www.all-about-forensic-science.com)

Out of all the things pathologists do, the most important thing is examining patterns of injury to figure out the cause of the victim’s death. They conduct an autopsy to figure out what happened to the victims of crimes. Above, is a picture of actual forensic pathologists conducting an autopsy. Autopsy is a postmortem examination done to discover the cause of death. Yes, it is a little disgusting for commoners to look at :(, but this is what they do! This is why you need a strong stomach! You will be encountering numerous rotting corpses. I think there is no job that is makes you sicker than forensic pathologist.

Forensic pathologists spend their day performing autopsies, gaining data from investigating officers, and testifying at the court. It is very rare for a pathologist to visit a crime scene, even though some may visit sometimes. Besides working to solve the mystery of the crime, forensic pathologists also examine patterns of injury in the living . This is important in saving people’s lives and in increasing the possibility later developments of cure.

If you want to become a forensic pathologist, you should take courses to meet prerequisites for med school. You do not necessarily have to major in science, though you are encouraged to take biochemistry and psychology.

In order to become a forensic pathologist, you need four years of college education(gain a bachelor’s degree), four years of medical school education(gain MD), four or five years of residency, and 1 or 2 years of forensic pathology fellowship. It takes minimum thirteen years, after high school graduation, to become a forensic pathologist. You will be over 30 years old by then! 😮 If you want to be a forensic pathologist, you should really rethink if you are not the person who wants to study as long as they studied in elementary, middle, and high school.

Even though you have to suffer a lot to become a forensic pathologist, it will be rewarding. The hours will be better than other physicians, and you will never be bored at work! Pay is not that great compared to other physicians though. You will make about $60,000 to $180,000 depending on your skills, experience, area, and responsibility.