Category Archives: Forensic pathology

Journal articles relating to forensic pathology including coronial autopsies and Disaster victim identification.

Development of a Lean Facility Design Roadmap for Design-Bid-Build Forensic Facilities

National Institute of Justice | Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) January 2016;  38 pp

In 2013, NIST published an update to its widely acclaimed Forensic Science Laboratories: Handbook for Facility Planning, Design, Construction and Relocation.  A detailed review revealed that, despite its guidance on integrating the latest scientific developments, efficiency improvements, and sustainability practices in building forensic facilities, it contains few references to Lean  Design.  In an effort to incorporate Lean Design thinking into the planning, construction, and relocation of forensic facilities, the National Institute of Justice’s FTCoE initiated a project to develop guidelines and checklists for Lean Facility Design (LFD). This document reports on the development of these LFD guidelines and checklists and their integration.

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Police officers who responded to 9/11: comorbidity of PTSD, depression, and anxiety 10-11 years later

American Journal of Industrial Medicine Volume 59, Issue 6, pages 425–436, June 2016;  DOI: 10.1002/ajim.22588


After the 9/11/2001 World Trade Center (WTC) attack, many police-responders developed PTSD and might be vulnerable to develop depression and/or anxiety. Comorbidity of PTSD, depression, and/or anxiety is examined.


Police enrollees (N = 1,884) from the WTC Health Registry were categorized into four groups based on comorbidity of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for PTSD were used. Depression (PHQ-8) and anxiety (GAD-7) were assessed with standardized psychometric inventories. Multinomial logistic regression was used to identify putative risk factors associated with comorbidity of PTSD.


Of 243 (12.9% of total) police with probable PTSD, 21.8% had probable PTSD without comorbidity, 24.7% had depression, 5.8% had anxiety, and 47.7% had comorbid depression and anxiety. Risk factors for comorbid PTSD, depression, and anxiety include being Hispanic, decrease in income, experiencing physical injury on 9/11, experiencing stressful/traumatic events since 9/11, and being unemployed/retired.


Nearly half of police with probable PTSD had comorbid depression and anxiety.

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Quantification of fatal helium exposure following self-administration

International Journal of Legal Medicine  Online 25 April 2016

Helium is nontoxic at standard conditions, plays no biological role, and is found in trace amounts in human blood. Helium can be dangerous if inhaled to excess, since it is a simple tissue hypoxia and so displaces the oxygen needed for normal respiration. This report presents a fatal case of a middle-aged male victim who died from self-administered helium exposure. For the first time, the quantification of the helium levels in gastric and lung air and in blood samples was achieved using gas chromatography—mass spectrometry after airtight sampling. The results of the toxicological investigation showed that death was caused directly by helium exposure. However, based on the pathomorphological changes detected during the forensic autopsy, we suppose that the fatal outcome was the result of the lack of oxygen after inhalation.

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The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology June 2016, Volume 37, Issue 2


Positional Asphyxia: Death Due to Unusual Head-Down Position in a Narrow Space. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):51-53, June 2016

Sudden Death Due to Undiagnosed Wilkie Syndrome. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):54-56, June 2016

Colchicine-Induced Rhabdomyolysis: An Autopsy Case. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):57-59, June 2016

Sudden Death Due to Cerebral Leukemic Hemorrhage in a 32-Year-Old Woman Who Had a Short-Term Benzene Exposure History. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):60-63, June 2016

Hyperdensity of the Basilar Artery on Postmortem CT: A Potential Indicator for Basilar Artery Thrombosis. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):64-66, June 2016

Infantile Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Its Probable Links With Parameters of the Maternal Patient History: A Forensic Case Report. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):67-69, June 2016

Sexual Activity as a Risk Factor for the Spontaneous Rupture of Cerebral Aneurysms. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):70-73, June 2016

Lethal Dengue Virus Infection: A Forensic Overview. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):74-78, June 2016

Disguising a Suicide as a Homicide: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Hans Gross, and “The Problem of Thor Bridge”. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):79, June 2016

Fatal Falls in New York City: An Autopsy Analysis of Injury Patterns. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):80-85, June 2016

Establishing Standards for Side-by-Side Radiographic Comparisons. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):86-94, June 2016

Intravenous Heroin Abuse and Acute Myocardial Infarction: Forensic Study. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):95-98, June 2016

Analysis of Short Tandem Repeat and Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Loci From Single-Source Samples Using a Custom HaloPlex Target Enrichment System Panel. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):99-107, June 2016

Immersion of Bovine Eyeballs After 1 Hour in Seawater Does Not Result in Elevation of Postmortem Vitreous Humor Sodium and Chloride Levels. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):108-111, June 2016

Applying the Principles of Homicide by Heart Attack. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):112-117, June 2016

Histological Changes in Skeletal Muscle During Death by Drowning: An Experimental Study. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):118-126, June 2016

The Islamic Approach to Modern Forensic and Legal Medicine Issues. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. 37(2):127-131, June 2016

E ‘value’ ating Forensic Science

Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal Published online: 10 May 2016

Determining how to assess the value of forensic science is complex and multifaceted. The contributions of forensic science, the impact of evidence in case processing and their effects on the criminal justice system have not been thoroughly recognised. However, the research that has been conducted to date on the effectiveness of forensic science in the criminal justice system points to its enormous potential. Notions of value differ as evidence moves through the criminal justice system, and too often the focus is just on the costs of the provision of forensic science (e.g., cost per test) alone. Analysis of a range of literature which investigate the effectiveness of investigations and the uses of forensic science often have a very limited scope of their notion of value and are dependent on the organisation they are attached to (e.g., police force, forensic service provider, governmental body). Effectiveness and efficiency are important in evaluating forensic science, however assessing value is much broader than just assessments of its costs. The closure of the Forensic Science Service Ltd. has had significant impact on the provision of forensic science in the UK in recent years. Cost effectiveness of forensic science is difficult to assess as data is hard to obtain. This article uses data published over a number of years to assess how the cost of forensic services has changed for police forces in England and Wales. Although only available at an aggregate level, it points to a shifting balance of forensic services provided “in-house” and by external providers; the market of forensic science continues to be difficult to measure.

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A comparison of engineering controls for formaldehyde exposure during grossing activities in health care anatomic pathology laboratories

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene  Volume 13, Issue 7, 2016

This article for the first time reports a large set of monitoring results for formaldehyde exposure during grossing activities in health care anatomic pathology laboratories, and compares the effectiveness of different local exhaust ventilation systems on the exposure. To control the confounding effects from grossing work load, sampling duration, and the sizes of specimens grossed, only 15-min short-term personal exposure samples collected during large tissue specimen grossing were used for the comparison of the effectiveness of these local exhaust systems. While we also collected long-term 8-hr time weighted average samples, these are not treated in this analysis. The systems examined were canopy receiving hoods, slot exhausts, and commercially available pre-manufactured backdraft grossing stations, both recirculating and ducted exhaust types. Out of over 2,000 personal short-term air samples, 307 samples from 163 surveys met the data selection criteria. Over a third of the data were less than the analytical laboratory limits of detection. Using the robust maximum likelihood estimation method for multiple limits of detection, the mean and geometric mean of the dataset for each type of local exhaust system were found to be less than the short-term personal exposure regulatory limit of 2 ppm. Nonparametric Wilcoxon rank-sum pairwise tests of five types of engineering controls showed a statistically significant difference among these controls, with the most effective being the manufactured backdraft grossing stations ducted to the outside, and the least effective being canopy exhaust systems and manufactured filtered recirculating grossing stations. Finally, exposure with each of the major engineering control types was rated by the American Industrial Hygiene Association exposure control rating scheme.

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Leadership Decisions Influencing Medicolegal Death Investigation: “We wear a lot of hats.”

Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal
Volume 7, Issue 3-4, 2016 pages 51-57 [Published online: 06 Apr 2016]

Leaders of medicolegal death investigation agencies face leadership and management challenges. To develop a deeper understanding of how they approach these challenges in the context of the community they serve we explored their lived experiences through semi structured telephone interviews about the essential services of their agency. Qualitative interviews of 12 leaders were transcribed and reviewers identified major themes through multiple readings. The themes included: Responsibilities of Agencies, Interdisciplinary Relationships, Variations in Practice, Recruitment of Agency Personnel, Leaders Qualifications and Certification of Personnel, Training of Personnel, and Quality Improvement/Quality Assurance. The factors affecting agency leaders are complex ranging from the hiring of agency personnel to running and overseeing all aspects of death investigations. There are resources such as leadership training and mentoring needed to improve the oversight and quality of death investigation agencies in the United States.

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