Death Investigation : Systems and Procedures book cover
1st Edition

Death Investigation
Systems and Procedures

ISBN 9780429248221
Published August 21, 2017 by CRC Press
184 Pages

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Book Description

Death Investigation: Systems and Procedures is the first book dedicated to the topic of death investigation from a legal standpoint as well as the administrative and operational procedures that pertain to the medical examiner and the coroner system in the United States. Unique in its perspective, this book is the only one not concerned with instructing on investigatory conduct, autopsy procedure, pathology, or the solving of crimes. Instead, it explains the concepts and principles of death investigation established by governments, and outlines the legal and administrative steps that must be taken throughout the case.

Beginning with an introduction to the basic types of death investigation, the text explains the circumstances and statutory basis for death investigation systems. The author provides specific details about the role of coroners, medical examiners, and other forensic scientists and personnel who may officially be a part of the investigation. The overall goals of the investigations are included along with case studies and examples illustrating the procedures used in each type. The author also adds a brief summary of the specific system employed by each state. A considerable portion of the book is devoted to practical considerations such as the contents of the autopsy report, the death certificate, principles and issues related to evidence and expert witnesses, as well as a description of a typical day at a medical examiner's or coroner's office.

Well referenced with websites and sources of further information, Death Investigation: Systems and Procedures provides a comprehensive, concise procedural reference to students and professionals including lawyers, crime scene technicians, and anyone who works with death investigation data, or within the death investigation systems in the United States.

Table of Contents

General Aspects of Death Investigation

Why Know about Death Investigation?

What Is a Death Investigation?
Initial Collection of Information
Scene Investigation
Examination of the Body
Ancillary Investigations
Report Preparation

Basic Types of Death Investigation
Medicolegal Death Investigation
Institution-Based Death Investigation
Private Death Investigation

Public Health Death Investigations

Who Actually Performs Death Investigations?

The State and Local Nature of Medicolegal Death Investigation

Where Are Death Investigations Conducted?

How Death Investigations Are Funded

More on the People Who Investigate

Forensic Pathologists


Medical Examiners

Death Investigators

Who Controls the Scene of Death?

Forensic Scientists

Goals of Death Investigations

Basic Goals of Medicolegal Death Investigation

Goals of Institution-Based and Private Death Investigations

Examples of Death Investigations by Type

A Typical Institution-Based Death Investigation

A Typical Private Death Investigation

A Typical Medicolegal Death Investigation

Death Investigation: The Rake Analogy

Specific Features of Medicolegal Death Investigations

What Types of Deaths Are Reportable to the Medical Examiner or Coroner?

Examples of Medicolegal Death Investigation Systems

Types of Medicolegal Death Investigation by State

Special Circumstances

What about Mass Fatality Incidents?

Deaths on Indian Reservations or Federal Property

Other Death Investigation Topics

Who May Give Permission for an Autopsy?

The Autopsy Report

The Death Certificate


Death Investigation and Funeral Arrangements

Principles of Evidence

What Is an Expert?

What If You Disagree?

Death Investigation and Insurance Policies

Classic Dilemmas in Death Investigation

Professional Death Investigation Organizations

Access to Death Investigation Information

Pronouncement of Death

Deaths in Custody and Public Institutions

Criminal and Civil Law Issues

Sample Autopsy Report
Reason for Performing an Examination
Date and Time of Examination
Postmortem x-rays
Presentation, Clothing, and Personal Effects
Features of Identification
Diagnostic and Therapeutic Artifacts
Postmortem Changes
External Examination
Internal Examination
Chest and Abdomen
Cardiovascular System
Respiratory System
Gastrointestinal System
Hepatobiliary System
Urogenital System
Reticuloendothelial System
Musculoskeletal System
Endocrine System
Report of Histologic Sections
Other Procedures
Final Assessment
Clinical Information
Autopsy Findings

A Day at the Medical Examiner's Office
Further Reading
Useful Web Sites

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"A great read. Very informative."

– In Journal of the American Association of Forensic Dentists, April-June 2008