The branch of medicine dealing with the application of medical knowledge to establish facts in civil or criminal legal cases, such as an investigation into the cause and time of a suspicious death. A forensic pathologist is a medical doctor who has completed training in anatomical pathology and has subsequently specialized in forensic pathology.
The forensic pathologist performs autopsies/postmortem examinations to determine the cause of death. The autopsy report contains an opinion about the following: The pathologic process, injury, or disease that directly results in or initiates a series of events that lead to a person's death, such as a bullet wound to the head, exsanguination caused by a stab wound, manual or ligature strangulation, myocardial infarction resulting from coronary artery disease, etc.
The manner of death, the circumstances surrounding the cause of death, which, in most jurisdictions, include the following:
The role of the forensic pathologist in the relation to the examined person is obviously completely different from the role of the clinical doctor in his/her relation to the patient, where the physician often becomes an advocate for the patient.
The main role of the forensic pathologist is to practise and to mediate a scientific approach to the medical issues raised in a legal context involving death. It is inherent in its very nature that the forensic pathologist, irrespective of principle, strives to assist with impartial assessments, based on "science and tried and tested experience."