Forensic pathology is the speciality that focuses on the investigation of death. Our forensic pathologists undertake a range of examinations of deceased persons to determine not only the cause of death, but critically, the person’s identity, the external and internal factors (genetic or inherited conditions) contributing to the death and the reconstruction of the circumstances (both physical and social) in which the death occurred.
Forensic pathology is perhaps best understood by the community because of its role in the criminal justice system in relation to homicide investigations. However, this only represents about 1% of our work today. The largest part of a forensic pathologist’s role is to be a public health specialist and to help identify preventable deaths in the community. We work with families, courts and other health practitioners providing information that contributes directly to the prevention of deaths or injury in the community. As part of this work, we identify disease and predisposition to disease that has important ramifications for the ongoing health of families.
Sub-specialties Provided by Pathology Service
The Forensic Pathology team comprises forensic pathologists, scientists and technical specialists. The VIFM is also a training organisation of choice for doctors undertaking postgraduate medical specialist training in forensic pathology and these related disciplines. The different pathology sub-specialities involved in the work of forensic pathology includes:
The examination of organs and tissues for features of disease and responses to injury.
The analysis of chromosomes and DNA to diagnose genetic diseases and to assist in the identification of individuals and their families.
The analysis and interpretation of abnormal changes in chemicals found in blood and body fluids (such as electrolytes, enzymes and proteins).
The investigation of diseases that affect the blood such as anaemia, leukaemia, lymphoma, clotting or bleeding disorders as well as management of blood transfusions.
The investigation of allergic reactions and autoimmune disorders such as diabetes and thyroid conditions.
The investigation of diseases caused by infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.