Forensic Pathology is described as the branch of medical science that uses medical knowledge for legal purposes. Forensic pathologists are medical professionals who specialize in pathology (the study of disease within the body). Due to recent technological advances, the need for forensic pathologists has become much more in-demand.
In layman’s terms a forensic pathologist is a combination of a doctor and detective. They work side by side with the legal and crime departments to assist in finding the cause of death. Despite the similarities between a forensic pathologist and clinical pathologist, there are many differences in the nature of work. The main difference is that forensic pathologists attempt to solve a criminal case.
Forensic pathologists play an important role in the criminal justice system. It is their main duty to undertake the post mortem autopsy of bodies found in “suspicious circumstances” such as manslaughter, infanticide, and murder. The determination made by the forensic pathologist can play a huge role in deciding the outcome of a court case.
It is not uncommon for a forensic pathologist to be called into a courtroom in order to give an expert opinion. Their opinion may have a large impact on the outcome of the case. Due to this added responsibility, forensic pathologists must be trained and understand the legal process of investigation. As the forensic pathology field continues to grow, it is becoming more common for forensic pathologists to take training courses on the legal system. There are many universities that now offer joint Law and Medicine courses.
Not only do forensic pathologists investigate suspicious deaths, they also work to investigate deaths that involve unconfirmed natural deaths. It is more common for their work to investigate non-suspicious deaths.
As a forensic pathologist, it is very important to have good communication skills. As mentioned above, a forensic pathologist may testify in the courtroom. They also may have to converse with the media.
Forensic Pathologist Salary
The job description and duties of a forensic pathologist are not easy! They have many responsibilities and their research and investigations can play a very large role. This tough job description and training required is strongly reflected in the average salary of a forensic pathologist.
With any other occupation, the salary can vary by location, jurisdictions, and offices. In the United States, a forensic pathologist can earn between $75,000 – $200,000. The average salary for a forensic pathologist is around $100,000.