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Forensic Medicine


The forensic medicine , forensic medicine also called, is a branch of medicine whose main goal is to help the patient in the field of justice . In the same way, it is in charge of helping justice in its action in the face of the patient’s conditions that require some kind of delimitation in the field of justice.

There are those who consider that the forensic doctor only deals with autopsies . However, these types of professionals work in very different areas. Among their daily tasks are to delimit various pathologies and injuries such as: assessments of injuries derived from traffic accidents, rapes, civil disabilities; evaluations of psychiatric hospitalizations; determination of both work and non-work contingency in a certain disease process; and work disability.

History of forensic medicine

The origin of forensic medicine as such is located in the 16th century in Germany. The Carolina Law promulgated by Carlos V in 1532 established that doctors, generally barbers of the time, had to intervene on the corpses if the death occurred as a result of a homicide; The culprit was given a penalty commensurate with the injuries.

The great advances in forensic medicine occurred in the 19th century. Mateo Orfila, known as the father of toxicology, published the “Legal Medicine Treatise” in 1847.

In Spain, the National Corps of Forensic Doctors has its origin in the Health Law of 1855, which came from the hand of Pedro Mata, the first professor of legal medicine at the University of Madrid.

Currently forensic doctors are a National Corps of senior graduates who serve the Administration of Justice. They are therefore career officials who provide their services in Courts, Tribunals, Prosecutor’s Offices and Civil Registry Offices.

What is it?

Forensic medicine is the branch of medicine that applies both medical and biological knowledge necessary to solve different problems raised by law . Thus, the forensic doctor provides his services to judges and courts in the Administration of Justice.

Professional profile and competencies of the forensic doctor

To practice as a forensic doctor, it is an essential condition to study medicine and specialize in forensic and legal medicine.

Of course, these types of professionals must show a great interest in science, especially in the fields of chemistry and biology.

In addition, they must have the ability both to communicate and to work in a team ; In general, forensic doctors carry out their functions in collaboration with other professionals such as judges or lawyers of higher courts, among others.

Emotional strength is another recommended quality for being a forensic doctor; certain situations force us to face really distressing cases.


Here are the main competencies that a forensic doctor must have.

  • Ability to concentrate and attention since sometimes the functions to be performed require detailed studies and analysis.
  • Ability to pay the utmost attention to details.
  • Ability to solve problems and adapt to different situations.
  • Ability to communicate both orally and in writing.

Areas of forensic medicine

Forensic medicine is divided into three main fields, which we will explain in detail below.


In the field of injuries and accidents, a forensic examination has as its main objective to delimit the damage suffered by the person , in addition to the mechanism by which it has occurred and what has been the origin of it.

In this way, the forensic doctor determines the way in which the injuries have occurred , in addition to their own characteristics and the repercussions that they have generated.

On certain occasions, the forensic doctor is also in charge of determining the assessment of a potential disability, in addition to its repercussions in the legal, social and labor fields.


As for the psychiatric field, the forensic doctor collaborates with the courts to assess those processes that in some way negatively affect the cognitive and volitional capacities of the person .

Their performance can be decisive in various processes such as the assessment of a person’s ability to testify, the assessment of the legal context in which a psychiatric hospitalization occurs, the assessment of workplace or school harassment …


And finally, the field of forensic medicine best known to all: autopsy. The medical examiner must verify the death of the person . In addition, it analyzes and determines the causes, both natural and violent, as well as the way in which death has occurred.

Other of its functions are to identify the victims, legalize the process of death and embalming.

Specialized forensic knowledge

The forensic doctor must have adequate scientific training and preparation regarding the functioning of the human body. As in any other field of medicine, there are various fields of specialization.

  • Toxicology: is one that studies the effects produced in the body due to toxic or poisonous products.
  • Ballistics: This branch of forensic medicine studies the trajectory, range, and effects of projectiles or bullets.
  • Serology: is responsible for performing blood tests.
  • Forensic psychiatry: its main objective is to establish the state of the individual’s mental faculties, in order to define their degree of criminal responsibility and civil capacity.
  • Forensic sexology: studies the connection of sexual problems related to justice, such as sexual crimes.
  • Lesionology: it is in charge of investigating the mechanism by which wounds have formed, taking into account the evidence, the testimony and the reconstruction of the facts.
  • Thanatodiagnosis: assesses the course of time in relation to the evolution of destruction of a certain body.


Now we are going to focus on this field of forensic medicine. The main objective of this branch is to know the cause of death of the victim. During the procedure, he takes several photographs of the body to detect any type of abnormality, such as wounds or blood debris.

Types of autopsy

There are two different types of autopsy, which are interesting to know.

  • Legal doctor: requires a court order to carry it out. During the procedure, the forensic doctor carefully studies the external appearance of the corpse. There is usually no prior diagnosis and the victim’s medical history is not required to interpret the findings. Its main purpose is to investigate the immediate cause of death and the way in which it occurred.
  • Clinic: this type of autopsy does not require a court order. In this case, it is not necessary to carry out a detailed study of the external appearance of the corpse. Unlike the medical legal autopsy, there is a previous diagnosis and it is essential to have the victim’s medical history to interpret the findings. The clinical autopsy seeks to establish the relationship between the symptom and the injury that has led to death.

Ways of death

They differ between four ordinary types of death.


In this case, there is no type of violence or disregard for both biological and human laws.


As its name indicates, it is a type of violent death , in which there is a disregard for human and biological laws.


In what is known as accidental death, there is both violence and transgression, albeit involuntarily , of natural and human laws.


In the case of suicide, there is violence and transgression, perhaps involuntarily, of human and natural laws. Different types of suicide are distinguished.

  • Narcissist: it is known as such an individual who carries out said action with the sole purpose of being remembered and appearing in the media.
  • Player: is that individual, generally a gambler, who chooses suicide after everything.
  • Imitted: in general it is an individual who suffers from neurosis, and who finds in suicide an act to be imitated.
  • Guilty: an individual who feels guilty for a certain cause and who chooses to commit suicide.
  • Depressed: it is an individual who suffers from a chronic depressive disorder and who only finds the solution to his illness in suicide.
  • Evicted: an individual who feels ill and / or older, and who considers suicide the best option to end his suffering.

Ethics of the medical examiner

Legal practitioners have a responsibility to be objective and impartial in the observations they make. In addition, when making judgments both for and against, they must take into consideration its principles, without paying attention to any type of claim by a person, or by society as a whole.

This type of professionals must be constantly updated through the evaluation of both local and national bioethics committees .

In general, forensic doctors collaborate with institutions such as the National Medical Arbitration Commission . They act as mediators between the accused and the accuser, forming part of the expert opinion on suspicions or accusations of medical negligence.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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