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Who can perform autopsies?

Discussion in 'Pathology' started by kovalchuk, Jul 31, 2006.

  1. kovalchuk

    kovalchuk Membership Revoked
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    I'm watching this show, The X-Files, and one of the FBI agents performs an autopsy. Now I found this odd, so I did some research on this character's background, and apparently she is a medical school graduate but joined the FBI shortly thereafter. Doubtful she completed a pathology residency. Could she legitimately be performing autopsies with just an M.D. and no further training (perhaps a internship year to get her license), or is it a load of junk? Wouldn't she have to be a forensic pathologist to be doing autopsies for the FBI?
     
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  3. soul21

    soul21 Member
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    I just saw an episode were she says that she completed a residency in forensic science. Is there a pathology residency that also involves forensic science training? I always thought everyone has to do a path residency than a fellowship in forensic pathology.
     
  4. djmd

    djmd an Antediluvian
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    OHH NO! A tv show got something slightly wrong...

    Yes, residency in Path, Fellowship in forensics.

    Or people can get trained in forensics as like a PA.
     
  5. LADoc00

    LADoc00 There is no substitute for victory.
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    Scully is a board certified pathologist with forensic training through the FBI. She was a graduate of UMaryland, and did her residency there as well I believe. Regardless, ANY license physican can perform and lawfully report an autopsy/post mortem findings. In fact, during the 1940s, autopsies were often performed by family docs, many of which had gone from med school directly to WWII with no post graduate education (well formal anyway!) and returned back to small rural communities to do literally everything from deliveries, surgery to police work.

    True story!
     
  6. djmd

    djmd an Antediluvian
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    Yeah a number of those medics (who generally just got a couple weeks of training) came back to become Docs.

    One of my dad's best stories about medical school involves a former medic (Vetinam era) guy who was working in the ER (as like a gopher) before he got into medical school. The ER got slammed and they just told everybody to do whatever they could... after they we going arround asking ok who started this line, who put this cast on,.... This guy had done a lot of it...
    From then on he got to just hang out and assist procedures..
     
  7. CameronFrye

    CameronFrye Senior Member
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    Yeah, even though you don't really see non-pathologists doing autopsies anymore, a lot of local Medical Examiners are actually still family docs (at least here in Virginia). As residents, once we pass step 3 and get our license, we can serve as local M.E.'s (it pays pretty good and it's about the only moonlighting opportunity available for a path resident).
     
  8. kittykat

    kittykat Daubert
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    In some southern states various counties or parishes cannot afford physicians so they have a mix of people who can perform autopsies, for example: coroner (elected official), medical examiner (physician-...Family Practice, Pathology), or justice of the peace (judge/lawyer).
     
  9. Path Mama

    Path Mama Junior Member
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    From what I understand, when there is a death, a Medical Examiner or Coroner (depending on the state) performs an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death (which may include scene investigation), including learning about the patient's medical history and activity in the days preceding death. This is done to determine whether a forensic autopsy is warranted, especially when the manner of death is thought to be anything other than natural. This doesn't have to be done by a pathologist, per se, but to be an M.E., I'm pretty sure you have to have a medical license. You don't have to be medical to be a coroner. The person who completes the death investigation may or may not be the same person who signs the death certificate. As far as performing the autopsy itself, I think that that person would be by and large pathology trained with a forensic fellowship under his/her belt.
     

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