Forensic medicine is that branch of medicine which consists of applying medical knowledge to legal questions. The primary method of forensic medicine has always been the autopsy. This tool is adapted to find out the cause of the individuals’ death.
The discipline is usually used to identificate the victims of a disaster such as the natural ones or crashes, as well as analyse individuals who are suspected of having injured other people.
In the 19th century, two specialised areas of forensic medicine arose: the forensic psychiatry and the forensic toxicology. The forensic psychiatry is used to analyse the mental health of an individual. The forensic toxicology examines the reasons for intentional drug use or poisoning.
In many countries, forensic medicine is seen as part of the legal system an not within the health-care system.
Forensic medicine relates to the concept of ‘forensic pathology’. This consists of the examination of dead people in order to determine their cause of death. This examination is usually performed by a medical examiner during the investigation of criminal law cases and civil law cases in some jurisdiction.
The origins of forensic medicine relate to Paul Zacchias who established legal medicine as a topic of study.
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