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NCJ Number: 136871 Find in a Library
Title: Practical Approach to Investigative Ethics and Religious Objections to the Autopsy
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:37  Issue:3  Dated:(May 1992)  Pages:824-829
Author(s): R E Mittleman; J H Davis; W Kasztl; W M Graves Jr
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 6
Type: Report (Technical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The application of investigative ethics to religious objections associated with the autopsy is essential for harmony in achieving the mission of medical legal death investigation.
Abstract: An ethical dilemma for the death certifier is statutory authority versus family autonomy. This dilemma necessitates a balance between societal implications of the death investigation and respect for the family's wishes. The problems consist of satisfying legal requirements in the public interest and avoiding needless publicity, litigation, and legislative reactions. In Florida, an ethical advisory committee composed of religious, ethics, legal, and medical leaders has established a unified position on the practice of discretionary judgment and liaison with clergy. The committee divides medical examiner autopsies into mandated versus nonmandated categories. Mandated autopsies are those where death is associated with criminal violence, police custody, gunshot wound injury, prison, poisoning, suspected sudden infant death syndrome, and suicide. Nonmandated autopsies consist of motor vehicle or aircraft accidents, diseases constituting a threat to public health, drownings, death in State institutions, and otherwise by violence. For nonmandated cases, the autopsy may be waived if the following criteria are met: terminal event witnessed or readily acceptable, or both; no civil or criminal litigation anticipated; no controversy regarding the cause or manner of death; no public health concern; and external examination not remarkable. Examples of death cases handled by advisory committee procedures are noted. 6 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Autopsy; Death investigations
Index Term(s): Criminal investigation; Florida; Forensic medicine
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