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April 11, 1977

The Forensic Pathologist: "Family Physician" to the Bereaved

Author Affiliations

From the Laboratory of the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, Cleveland, and the Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland.

JAMA. 1977;237(15):1585-1588. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270420053016

THE FORENSIC pathologist occupies a unique position in the field of laboratory medicine. The major portion of his uniqueness derives from his case material and courtroom activity as he participates in the investigation and adjudication of unexpected, violent, and suspicious deaths. A rarely mentioned but important difference between him and his clinical counterpart (the hospital pathologist) resides in their relationship with and responsibility to the families and friends of the decedents who come within their purview.

Hospital and Forensic Pathologist Comparisons  Germane to the present discussion is the fact that the results of the hospital pathologist's studies are invariably passed on only to the attending physicians. Said differently, the hospital laboratorian communicates the fruits of his professional labors solely to other professionals. It is the clinical attendant who shares relevant diagnostic or prognostic information with those who have a right to know these facts, serving as an intermediary between the