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Medicolegal Autopsy Report (From Medicolegal Investigation of Death, P 604-614, 1980, by Werner U Spitz and Russell S Fisher - See NCJ-69730)

NCJ Number
W U Spitz
Date Published
11 pages
The content and format of the medicolegal autopsy report are discussed; external and internal examinations and the presentation of a well-rounded medicolegal opinion are emphasized.
The basic medicolegal autopsy report, like a standard hospital report, corresponds to an established format. The report includes findings from external examination, findings from internal examination, and an opinion relating the cause of death. The individual who is charged with determining the cause and manner of death is furnished a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the death and the scene where the body was found. This preliminary investigation report is usually obtained from the police. The external examination of a body in a medicolegal case should begin with a description of the clothing. Sometimes detailed examination of clothing can provide information related to the death; e.g., tire marks imprinted on clothing may enable police to identify the offending vehicle. It is advisable to mention the amount of blood present in clothing. Examination of the body itself should be precise as well. Injuries should not be listed merely as tears or lacerations, but should indicate relationship to the death; e.g., entrance wound, contact shot. Age, sex, race, length, and weight should be noted, as well as birthmarks and other identifying features. All injuries are described externally and internally in terms of exact location on the body. Measurements should be taken for gunshot and stab wounds with regard to size and location. The internal examination in the medicolegal autopsy report does not materially differ from the regular hospital autopsy report. The medicolegal report should conclude with a well rounded opinion which ties together all salient points of the case. The opinion relates the cause and manner of death, based not only on the results of the postmortem examination and laboratory analyses but also on all available pertinent information that is relative to the case. This part of the report particularly must be worded plainly and leave no room for speculation. Photographs are included. No references are given. For related documents, see NCJ 69731-46.


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