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The Medical Examiner's Department is staffed by 7 full-time physicians that are specially trained in the field of forensic pathology and a yearly quota of four to five physicians that are training in forensic pathology. Their duties include performing autopsies to determine the cause of death and the manner of death. The physicians work closely with investigators within the department and police detectives who obtain information related to the person's demise.
The determination of a cause of death can be straight-forward or may be more complicated, requiring the assistance of toxicology tests, laboratory reports, hospital records, histologic examination of tissues, and other studies. The determination of a cause of death may occasionally take months to complete. Determining the manner of death, the pathologist has five categories from which to choose: natural, accidental, homicide, suicide or undetermined.
In addition to their work in the autopsy room, the forensic pathologist juggle a busy schedule that includes traveling to the scene of some deaths, teaching duties at the medical school and hospitals, testifying in court, and providing expert consultation on injured living victims.
Pathologists are thus working with police and with other law enforcement agencies to make an accurate assessment of the facts surrounding a person’s death, particularly when that death occurs in what may be unexplained or criminal circumstances. The doctors who work in the pathology division of the ME Department provide a vital public service to the citizens of Miami-Dade County.
- A.A.F.S. - American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- C.D.C. - Physician's Handbook on Medical Certification of Death
- F.A.M.E. - Florida Association of Medical Examiners
- F.B.I. - Federal Bureau of Investigations
- N.A.M.E. - National Association of Medical Examiners
- Physicians Responsibility in Death Certification & Reporting
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