By Jeffrey M. Jentzen
A loss of life happens at domestic, in a health facility, on a road: why? As Jeffrey Jentzen unearths, we frequently by no means understand. Why is the yank process of loss of life research so inconsistent and insufficient? What can the occasions of the assassination of President Kennedy, killing of Bobby Kennedy, and Chappaquiddick show concerning the nation of dying investigation?
If groups in early the USA had a coroner in any respect, he used to be politically appointed and poorly proficient. As medication turned extra refined and the scientific career extra convinced, physicians struggled to set up a professionalized, physician-led procedure of demise research. The clash among them and the coroners, in addition to politicians and legislations enforcement enterprises, resulted in the patchwork of neighborhood legislation and practices that persist to this day.
In this particular political and cultural heritage, Jentzen attracts on records, interviews, and his personal profession as a health worker to examine the best way long-standing specialist and political contention controls public scientific wisdom and public health.
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Extra info for Death Investigation in America: Coroners, Medical Examiners, and the Pursuit of Medical Certainty
Herman N. Bundesen resigned from his position as commissioner of health to run for coroner and became the first physician-coroner in Chicago in sixty-five years. He rehired a number of the previous coroner’s physicians and reinstituted the medical examinations begun under Hektoen. 86 In 1912, the Municipal Association of Cleveland, a social club organized by the Chamber of Commerce to investigate civic improvements, set out to examine every aspect of county government, including the coroner’s office.
In the view of the reviewers, nothing had substantially changed since the previous report of 1912. There were no special requirements for coroners except that they not be lawyers. The county commissioners controlled the funding and thus determined which autopsies could be performed, restricting them to cases of obvious homicide. The coroner had no designated salary and relied solely on fees he could collect. Though openly critical of the coroner system, this report lacked the power to initiate any meaningful change to the coroner’s office in Cleveland.
15 Coroners had little communication with community physicians, and autopsy material from their offices gener- R Death Investigation in America 36 ally was not made available for medical education. Physician medical examiners, in contrast, made every effort to use their offices for the education of practicing physicians and medical students by allowing them to observe and assist with autopsies. In language reminiscent of the accolades bestowed on the Johns Hopkins Medical School for its role in advancing medical education some eighteen years earlier, the NRC report identified the New York medical examiner’s office as a model to be emulated.