U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Just Science Podcast: Episode 46: Drugs: Just the State of Pathology

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2018
1 page

This sixth episode in the "Drugs Season" series of the "Just Science" podcasts consists of an interview with Dr. Randy Hanzlick of the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office in Atlanta, who discusses a variety of issues related to medicolegal death investigation, including the history of forensic pathology, board certifications and standards, and the impact of the complexities and shortages of the coroner and medical examiner systems on the opioid crisis.


The interview opens with a review of Hanzlick's professional career and particular projects related to the advancement of the forensic pathology field. This is followed by Hanzlick's overview of the history and evolution of systems for the certification of forensic pathologists and the accreditation for coroner and medical examiner systems and organizations. The difficulties in improving the number and qualifications of forensic pathologists are noted, and ways of dealing with shortages of qualified persons in the field are discussed, including the establishment of regional medical examiner systems. The pros and cons of moving from coroner systems to medical examiner systems for death investigations are also discussed. In seeking to increase the number of qualified forensic pathologists, Hanzlick argues for medical colleges and their curricula to give more attention to forensic pathology and its importance in the medical as well as the cl justice field. Monetary incentives for medical school graduates to become forensic pathologists are suggested. The interview also includes a discussion of how lack of death investigations by certified forensic pathologists and accurate data-sharing systems on death causes in regions and the nation can retard the identification and response to deadly epidemics, such as the opioid crisis.

Date Published: May 1, 2018