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Type: Book chapter
Title: Unique characteristics at autopsy that may be useful in identifying human remains
Author: Simpson, E.
Byard, R.
Citation: Forensic Pathology Reviews, 2008 / Michael Tsokos (ed./s), pp.175-195
Publisher: Springer
Publisher Place: USA
Issue Date: 2008
ISBN: 9781597451109
Statement of
Ellie K. Simpson and Roger W. Byard
Abstract: When a person dies, it is a legal requirement in most countries for the body to be formally identified. In Australia, it is the responsibility of the State Coroners to accept the identification and to release the body for burial. Usually, identification can be carried out by friends or relatives viewing the body and confirming the identity to a member of the police force (visual identification). In some cases, however, postmortem changes such as decomposition, or facial trauma or disfigurement, incineration or skeletonisation make visual identification unacceptable. In this instance other methods of identification are attempted. These include dental, fingerprints, DNA or, as a last resort, circumstantial identification. On a national and global scale, the issue of identification becomes a particular challenge in situations of multiple fatalities, for example in circumstances of natural disaster or tragic events such as aeroplane crashes, genocide, war or terrorist attacks. In these situations, identification of victims becomes one of the primary aims of the disaster relief teams. During the postmortem examination, the pathologist facilitates identification by examining the body and documenting any unique characteristics that may be useful in identifying the person. This information can then be used to corroborate any other information on the identification, and becomes especially useful when visual identification is not possible.
Keywords: Mass disaster; Identification; Fingerprints; Birthmarks; Frontal sinus comparison; Tattoo; Postmortem changes
RMID: 0020085750
DOI: 10.1007/978-1-59745-110-9_10
Appears in Collections:Pathology publications

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