Forensic Pathologist

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Forensic pathology is a sub-specialty of pathology that focuses on determining the cause of death by examining a corpse. There are currently three paths to qualify as a forensic pathologist in Australia. The first is to train solely in forensic pathology (although a significant amount of anatomical pathology knowledge is still required) and pass two examinations for forensic pathology only. The second is to commence training in anatomical pathology, and complete an initial anatomical pathology examination, which takes a minimum of three years; then go on to train solely in forensic pathology and complete a forensic pathology examination, which takes a minimum of two years. The third is to complete a minimum 5 years' training in anatomical pathology to qualify as a fellow in anatomical pathology, then complete a post-fellowship year in forensic pathology (a minimum twelve months further training plus successful completion of an examination)

The role of the Forensic Pathologists is to assist coroners, police and courts to resolve critical medical issues, including causes of death, the circumstances in which deaths occurred and how injuries might have been caused. Forensic Pathologists focus on the examination of deceased people. This examination includes a review of medical histories, external examination and CT scans. Sometimes internal examinations or autopsies are performed to help determine the cause of death. In this work, the Forensic Pathologist is assisted by a range of in-house forensic scientific services such as toxicology, histopathology, DNA testing and microbiology. Information regarding patterns and trends in death and injury is provided to coroners who evaluate the broader social and legal issues and often make recommendations that are aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future. In fact, a large part of a Forensic Pathologist’s role is focused on public health. Timely and accurate post-mortem information is critical to the function of our entire medical system. Pathology informs the professional decisions of medical practitioners across the healthcare spectrum.

Related Organisations
Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine
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