1. Before unveiling the cadaver, the presenter will discuss with the students the importance of the cadaver in medical education. Discussion the body donor program and the basics of the embalming process will begin the videoconference. This is the time the presenter informs the students that the face will remain covered and that the blood has been drained from the cadaver. Discussion of the importance of discretion and respect in regards to the cadaver as it represents an individual who has given the ultimate gift, the gift of themselves, so that others might learn is also covered.
2. Methods of investigation: Discussion of the purpose of a forensic investigation. The investigation uses a systematic, objective approach to determine the time, cause and manner of death (be sure to emphasize these 3 points for the posttest). In forensics there is a differentiation between cause of death, the mechanism of death and the manner of death. Students will learn that the cause of death refers to the event or object that initiates the process of dying. Mechanism of death is the process that causes death. Manner of death is categorized as one of the following; natural, homicide, suicide, accident, pending or undetermined. So for example a stab wound would be a cause of death and exsanguinations would be the mechanism of death.
There are several questions to be answered by a forensic investigation: Who is the deceased? When did they die? What were the circumstances of their death? What was the cause of death?
3. Estimating Time of Death: The first step in determining time of death is to estimate a timeframe in which the death could have occurred. This is done by assessing factors such as last time the person was seen alive or missed days at work. Depending on that original time frame the characteristics of the body are used to estimate time of death.
If the body is discovered outside, forensic entomology may be used to assist in estimating time of death as the invasion of the body by insects occurs in a predictable manner.
If the death is thought to occur months to years prior to the investigation many factors such as the degree of mummification, the degree of saponification (body fat turning to soap as a result of bacterial invasion) of body fat and the degree of skeletonization of the body can be used to estimate time of death.
4. The internal examination: Discussion of the autopsy procedure. The presenter will begin by describing the y-shaped incision made over the chest and abdominal cavity. The incision is made above the clavicles on either side and extends to the pubic bone. Care is taken not to cut into any of the organs in the abdominal cavity. Next, the chest-plate is removed using a bone saw. This exposes the organs of the thoracic cavity. Care is taken not to disturb the pericardium and pleura if possible to allow for measurement of any pleural or pericardial fluid.
After completing this AIMS videoconference, students will be able to:
1. List the guidelines for proper evidence gathering
2. Recount the basic procedure for the forensic autopsy
3. Understand the postmortem processes which assist in determining time and cause of death
National Science Education (NSE)
content standards for grades 9-12:
systems order and organization
personal and community health
form and function
matter, energy and organization of living systems
evidence, models and explanation
Show Me Standards
(Science, and Health/Physical Education)
characteristics and interactions of living organisms
properties and principles of matter and energy
structures of, functions of, and relationships among human body systems
principles of movement and physical fitness
methods used to assess health, reduce risk factors, and avoid high risk behaviors (such as violence, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use)
diseases and methods for prevention, treatment and control