The Forensic Pathology Section determines the cause of death in cases that have met the criteria of Coroner’s cases, as guided by the Coroner’s Act of Jamaica.
The cause of death could be defined as the events leading to death and may be categorized as natural, trauma or toxicological. By extension, the forensic pathologist may need to determine the manner of death, as in the circumstances surrounding the death and may be classified as suicide, homicide, natural or accidental.
The aim of the department is to perform post mortem examinations of a high standard for stakeholders. In addition, the services of the Forensic Sciences Section of the Institute of Forensic Science & Legal Medicine (IFSLM), the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) and the veterinary laboratory (MICAF) are used when samples are taken for ancillary testing.
The Forensic Pathology service also has a regional impact as the service is utilized by other Caribbean Islands. In addition to performing medico-legal post mortem examinations, the Forensic Pathologists provide consultation to the members of the Judiciary and the JCF. The findings, which are formulated into the post mortem examination reports, are then used in the justice system. The post mortem examination with its evidence-based, unbiased report is therefore integral to the death investigation.
To achieve best practices, the Section works to decrease the waiting time for the post mortem examinations by hiring more forensic pathologists and the hiring of pathologist assistants. The training of medical and non-medical personnel is paramount and we continue to keep this as a priority in order to achieve our vision of attaining internationally accepted standards.
Forensic Pathologists conduct autopsies and collect evidence, give expert testimonies in court, complete forms for family members and crime scene visits when required.