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Books, Journals, New Media
October 10, 2001

Death: Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 2001;286(14):1767-1768. doi:10.1001/jama.286.14.1767

When the first edition of this book became available, one of the forensic pathologists in our office purchased a copy. Several others, myself included, followed suit. Why? Because we are busy medical examiners who investigate and certify approximately 20% of all deaths in our community, a figure that holds true in most medical examiner and coroner jurisdictions. We know a lot about investigating and determining causes of death. We know much about what happens to dead bodies left unattended in various environmental conditions. We know some embalming techniques. We know what funeral directors do. We encounter varying human reactions when sudden death strikes a family member. Yet we know little about what happens outside our immediate experience.