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09 June 2009

The Brain Box

Ok, so I am still rotating through the Medical Examiner's Office. The cases from the last couple of days have included several suicides and several mass traumas. We talked about how the patients that don't make it to the Emergency Department end up at the ME's office.

This is why I am doing this rotation. Nowhere else am I going to be able to be elbow deep in someone's chest looking for the traumatic aortic rupture, or holding someone's brain following the path of a bullet with my finger. (By the way, the pic is a Jello mold not a real brain.)

I wanted to quickly respond to some questions I received from Betty:
- The ME's office gets cases that warrant a forensic medical examinination as deemed by the County Coroner (there's a difference between coroner and medical examiner), and cases that fall under certain protocols - an unwitnessed death in a person who has not been under a doctor's care for a certain period of time, any death involving an inmate, an unexplained or unnatural death (murder, suicide, accident), deaths involving children or infants, and several other specific circumstances.

- We have a protocol sheet we follow in the E.D. and in the hospital when there's a death. We have to call the M.E.'s office, and they "sign-off" or take the case. If there is an autopsy that's not the same thing... a family can ask for an autopsy and that is performed by the hospital pathologist.

- I usually don't participate in autopsies, but I occasionally get to cut something or dissect an organ, and I get to touch most things after the official examination is done, which is a good thing because I am not a "spectator"

Tomorrow is an off day, so I will be back at the ME's on Thursday. Here's the case list from the last few days, including 3 suicides -
Homocide
MVC Fatality

3 comments:

a corgi said...

thanks for answering my question, Veronica; that makes sense why ME's would get involved in cases like what you described

wow, 3 suicides; that is sad.....you just got to feel so bad for someone that they would have that much pain that they would want to end their live(s).....

betty

Julie said...

We had two 12 year olds hang themselves this past month, so sad and tragic. I never wanted to view an autopsy for some reason. I wouldn't have trouble with the body but am pretty sure the head part would do me in.

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