Beyond the Forensic Pathology Investigation: Improving Warfighter Survivability
Edward L. Mazuchowski, Christopher J. Gordon, Louis N. Finelli, Howard T. Harcke
ABSTRACT: The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) conducts forensic pathology investigations in accordance with Title 10 U.S. Code 1471. Since 2004, the AFMES has incorporated advanced radiologic imaging, such as computed tomography, into its protocol. This incorporation has led to increased fidelity in depicting injuries, efficient localization of foreign bodies, and the ability to accurately document medical therapy – all of which enhance the forensic pathology investigation. As with most jurisdictions, information contained in the forensic pathology investigation is disseminated to family members and criminal investigating authorities. In addition, AFMES also disseminates information regarding the location of resuscitative devices to casualty care providers and trainers, collaborates with trauma physicians and medical providers in regards to evaluating injuries and treatment for the assessment of potential improvements in medical care and survivability, and provides information and subject matter expertise to investigative boards and other organizations that reconstruct fatal events. The overarching goal of these additional collaborations is to enhance the understanding of the nature of traumatic injuries, improve casualty care, and ultimately decrease morbidity while improving survivability.