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April 8, 1974

Post Mortem

Author Affiliations

Office of the Medical Examiner Rochester, NY

JAMA. 1974;228(2):213. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230270057034

The Medical Detectives, by Paulette Cooper, 238 pp, $6.95, David McKay Co., 1973.

The first stirrings of legal medicine go back at least to the Code of Hammurabi, but the establishment of the specialty of forensic pathology is recent. In our country, where it is newer than in England and some parts of Europe, it goes back only to the replacement of our coroners by medical examiners in a scattering of cities and to the inauguration of a forensic pathology examination by the American Board of Pathology. Many physicians are still unaware of the way in which pathology can contribute to the solution of medicolegal problems. They therefore neglect important observations, or from such observations they expect Perry Mason-like exactness that frequently does not exist.

These two books are accurate statements of how pathology helps in elucidating medical mysteries. Nevertheless, their emphases are so different that there is much to