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Book and Media Reviews
April 28, 2010

Death Investigation in America: Coroners, Medical Examiners, and the Pursuit of Medical Certainty

JAMA. 2010;303(16):1648-1652. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.499

Dying is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.—W. Somerset Maugham

It is fortunate that at least some pathologists ignore Maugham's advice and obtain training in forensic pathology—an art and science that deals primarily with the investigation of death. Such inquiry lies at the busy junction of medicine and law and is not the purview of any single occupation. At present, analysis of death entails an assortment of personnel belonging to dozens of different job categories. Despite—or perhaps because of—this pooling of multifarious talent, such investigation remains an inexact science in the United States and elsewhere.

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