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April 13, 1994

Clinical Medicine Meets Forensic Sciences

JAMA. 1994;271(14):1064-1065. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510380012005

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LIKE A SLEUTH tracking an elusive killer, Charles Buerk, MD, still questions the death 2 years ago of a 39-year-old stabbing victim.

The injury wasn't serious—a mild puncture wound in the left flank. But the victim died unexpectedly in the hospital 2 days later from adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Buerk, a trauma surgeon and director of surgical education at Orlando (Fla) Regional Medical Center, presented the case and several others at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in San Antonio, Tex. They illustrate how clinicians and medical examiners are collaborating to enhance quality assurance and ultimately improve patient care.

Buerk recounted clues in the unexplained ARDS death. When the patient arrived at the emergency department within an hour after the stabbing, he was stable, alert, and oriented but his white blood cell count on admission was 30.0×109/L.

During repair of a small serosal

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