Find A PhysicianHome  |  Library  |  myDownstate  |  Newsroom  |  A-Z Guide  |  E-mail  |  Contact Us  |  Directions
curve gif

Forensic Pathology Curriculum Goals and Objectives


  • Demonstrates respect for human remains and fosters this attitude among other personnel
  • Gathers information from investigators, family members, caregivers, or clinicians prior to the autopsy when appropriate
  • Understands the scope of investigations of sudden, suspicious, or unnatural deaths
  • Understands the use of the death certificate and the proper method of death certification


  • Develops a general understanding of the purposes of and approaches to medicolegal death investigation.
  • Develops a basic understanding of traumatic death (gunshot wounds, stabbing, blunt force, burns, etc), causes of sudden natural deaths (myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, ruptured saccular aneurysm, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ruptured aortic aneurysm, etc), and drug-related deaths.
  • Can cogently describe various anatomic abnormalities, including injuries caused by various physical agents
  • Is able to effectively integrate and analyze information to put together a cohesive picture of case, correlating autopsy findings with the clinical history and cause of death
  • Can perform a complete autopsy or external examination and correctly assign the cause and manner of death as well as the underlying mechanism



  • Presents concise and complete summary to forensic pathologist supervising autopsy
  • Understands and implements proper method of identifying patients.
  • Takes appropriate photographs to document important positive and negative findings
  • Understands necessary components of forensic autopsy report
  • Describes gross and microscopic autopsy findings as appropriate and obtains adequate tissue sections
  • Investigates cases using texts, journal articles, and internet sources
  • Demonstrates knowledge of precautions to be taken against infections and other hazards in the handling of fresh tissue during autopsies
  • Learns proper techniques for photography, documentation, and collection of samples from clothing and body for use as evidence
  • Learns proper procedures for retrieving projectiles at autopsy to preserve their value as ballistic evidence
  • Learns proper techniques used for sampling fluids and tissues for forensic toxicology


  • Communicates effectively with family members, caregivers, clinicians and other health care providers to obtain information
  • Interacts effectively with investigative, administrative, secretarial, and technical staff
  • Demonstrates effective communication skills in case presentations and other meetings
  • Appropriately uses and responds to e-mail and other communications


  • Prepares and organizes for case presentations to medical examiner or forensic pathologists
  • Follows up by completing unfinished cases and collecting needed information
  • Adheres to ethical principles, accepts responsibility for actions, admits mistakes, recognizes and addresses ethical dilemmas, maintains confidentiality
  • Recognizes limits of abilities and need to consult with others
  • Works effectively with members of the health care team, demonstrating courtesy and responsiveness to views of others
  • Is sensitive to diversity of coworkers and patients
  • Engages in ongoing learning; shows initiative in seeking new information; asks knowledgeable and well-informed questions
  • Maintains log of forensic autopsy cases
  • Is punctual, arriving on time for autopsies, conferences and other meetings


  • Understands the role of the medical examiner or forensic pathologist in the legal system and in pubic health
  • Understands the criteria by which the medical examiner has authority to claim jurisdiction over an autopsy
  • Participates as warranted in forensic pathology conferences dealing with management, quality assurance, and graduate medical education