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Forensic Pathology

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Forensic pathology is a subspecialty within the field of pathology that focuses upon the application of principles of pathology within a medicolegal setting. While the postmortem examination is one of the primary tools utilized by a forensic pathologist and contrary to the popular belief that "all questions are answered by an autopsy," a forensic pathologist often needs to evaluate far more. In order to arrive at a well-reasoned opinion, a review of the scene and circumstances surrounding the death, medical records, investigative reports and reports of other analysts and experts are often necessary for this synthesis. Further a forensic pathologist often performs microscopic examinations of tissue retained at the time of the autopsy and may well call upon the expertise of other specially trained pathologists for more detailed examination of certain organs.

Although most frequently called upon to render opinions regarding injuries found in the deceased, given their experience in injury interpretation and mechanisms responsible for producing injuries, forensic pathologists are also often consulted regarding injuries on the living.

Our laboratory, unlike many other private crime labs, employs two forensic pathologists (Drs. Terri Haddix and Katherine Raven) with extensive forensic autopsy experience. Both of our pathologists hold board certifications by the American Board of Pathology in anatomic and forensic pathology; Dr. Raven is also board certified in clinical pathology. Dr. Haddix has received subspecialty training in neuropathology (disease processes involving the brain, spinal cord, skeletal muscle and peripheral nerve) and is also board certified in neuropathology. In addition to consulting individually in criminal and civil cases, Drs. Haddix and Raven frequently collaborate with our other analysts (i.e. firearms experts, DNA analysts, toxicologists, etc). Both of our pathologists have been qualified as experts in forensic pathology, injury interpretation and injury production. Dr. Haddix has also been qualified as an expert in neuropathology.

Our pathology related services include:

  • Review of all death investigation-related documentation (autopsy report and photographs, police reports, medical records, scene photographs, toxicology report, etc)
  • Microscopic slide review
  • Neuropathology examinations
  • Consultation with clients in all aspects of death investigation
  • Consultation with other analysts in our lab or outside analysts
  • Trial/hearing/deposition preparation & testimony