Medical expertise is crucial in death investigations. It begins with body examination and evidence collection at the scene and proceeds through history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and diagnosis – in short, the broad ingredients of a doctor’s treatment of a living patient. The key goal is to provide objective evidence of cause, timing, and manner of death for adjudication by the criminal justice system. Death investigation has been performed for centuries in all societies, although not always by medical professionals (Committee, 2003). The association of law and medicine dates back to the Egyptian culture as early as 3000 B.C. The English coroner system was mentioned in documentations around the 12th century B.C. (Spitz, 2006).
Although the primary goal of a death investigation is to establish the cause and manner of death, the role of the death investigation extends much further than simply answering these two questions. A common question asked is, “Why does it matter? The person is dead.” While it is true that the dead cannot benefit, the value in death investigation is to benefit the living and future generations. In a culture that values life, explaining the death in a public forum (the meaning of “forensic”) is crucial for many reasons. And this interest goes beyond simple curiosity (Wagner, 2009). PLEASE DON’T SCROLL LOL
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