Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Forensic Pathology

I am spending this month in downtown Milwaukee at the Medical Examiner's office. My first day started at 8am which meant I slept in a full three and a half hours later than on Trauma surgery! The day starting by going down into the morgue where we found six bodies all covered in plastic. As they were uncovered, each story was told. One couple from a fatal car accident. The driver was going over 80mph and hit a tree. Pictures from the crime scene investigator show a silver hot rod literally wrapped around a big oak tree with the left front tire nearly touching the left rear tire! Another two bodies were suicides. Sadly the suicide rate in Wisconsin is 8% greater than the rest of the nation, so it is a big part of what we see daily. Of the other four victims we had a tragic fall, a pregnancy related death, and two homicide.

The two homicides gave me a feel for what a medical examiner does. Before starting we looked at pictures from the scene and read witness accounts of the events, then during the autopsy we recreated how each bullet must have entered the body and then inspected for likely injuries. By the end we really had some answers. Very cool.

A few notes:
1) Wisconsin's homicide rate is 41% lower than the national average.
2) The medical examiners say that the rate of middle class people who end up in the wrong neighborhood and get shot is "rare if ever." So don't cry if you are lost, but don't pick a fight either.
3) 75% of kids who shoot themselves do so with a gun that was stored unlocked, so lock your freakin' guns up!


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