FORENSIC MEDICINE (INCLUDING TOXICOLOGY)
Dr. Edmond Locard was a pioneer in forensic science who became known as the Sherlock Holmes of France. He formulated the basic principle of forensic science: "Every contact leaves a trace". This became known as Locard's exchange principle.
The noun forensic medicine has one meaning the branch of medicine that interprets and establishes the medical facts in civil or criminal law cases. Also called legal medicine or medical jurisprudence.
Medical jurisprudence is a science of applying medical facts to legal problems. Routine tasks include filling out birth and death certificates, deciding insurance eligibility, and reporting infectious disease. Perhaps more significant is medical testimony in court. When merely relating observations, doctors are ordinary witnesses; interpreting facts based on medical knowledge makes them expert witnesses, required to present their opinions without bias toward the side that called them. Conflicts between medicine and law can occur, usually over medical confidentiality.
Areas of medicine that are commonly involved in forensic medicine are anatomy, pathology, and psychiatry.
Medical jurisprudence or forensic medicine, the application of medical science to legal problems. It is typically involved in cases concerning blood relationship, mental illness, injury, or death resulting from violence. Autopsy is often used to determine the cause of death, particularly in cases where foul play is suspected. Post-mortem examination can determine not only the immediate agent of death (e.g. gunshot wound, poison), but may also yield important contextual information, such as how long the person has been dead, which can help trace the killing. Forensic medicine has also become increasingly important in cases involving rape. Modern techniques use such specimens as semen, blood, and hair samples of the criminal found in the victim's bodies, which can be compared to the defendant's genetic makeup through a technique known as DNA fingerprinting; this technique may also be used to identify the body of a victim. The establishment of serious mental illness by a licensed psychologist can be used in demonstrating incompetency to stand trial, a technique which may be used in the insanity defense, albeit infrequently. The synonym of forensic medicine is forensic pathology.
Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. It is the study of symptoms, mechanisms, treatment and detection of poisoning, especially the poisoning of people.