Undergraduate medicines legal wrangle
Teaching in forensic medicine is woefully lacking at undergraduate level and this has serious implications for us all, says Richard Jones
Forensic medicine is the medical specialty that links medicine with the law, incorporating forensic pathology (a subspecialty of histopathology) and clinical forensic medicine. Over the past 50 years forensic medicine as an academic subject has been in slow (some would say terminal) decline. In fact, newly qualified doctors probably start practising without having received even a basic grounding in medicolegal matters. In today's increasingly litigious society, this is a serious matter.
The late professor of forensic medicine at Guy's Hospital, London, Keith Mant, was often outspoken about this decline. He was frustrated that forensic medicine was losing out to other subjects in the “overcrowded curriculum” that were of no practical use to students once they qualified. Medicolegal problems, however, will be encountered by junior doctors, whatever branch of medicine they choose to specialise in.2
Medicolegal procedures include examination of assault victims (including sexual assault), certification of death, reporting a death