Impact On Public Health
One way we protect the health and safety of our fellow citizens is through the investigation of sudden, unexpected, violent and suspicious deaths. In Nashville and Memphis, Forensic Medical Management Services, PLC (FMMS) performs many times the number of autopsies performed in all the state's hospitals combined. On average, between one-third and one-half of all forensic autopsies performed reveal natural causes of death rather than deaths due to physical or chemical injury. These findings are submitted to the appropriate federal, state and local agencies, which then use the data to determine how to best utilize limited public resources for the protection of the public.
FMMS provides feedback to the medical community both individually and through participation in hospital morbidity and mortality conferences. With the goal of enhancing early recognition and prevention of child abuse and preventable child deaths, FMMS actively participates in local and state multidisciplinary child fatality review teams. Additionally, when a death results from defective consumer products, malfunctioning medical equipment or industrial accidents, we report these to the proper authorities to assist in making our community safer.
As a regional forensic center, we assist many Tennessee counties by providing continuing education to county Medical Examiners and their death investigators through forensic seminars which provide education about Tennessee law and detail proper death investigation techniques.
As a NAME accredited forensic center, we also have a role in helping train new forensic pathologists. Through faculty assignments at public and private universities and a Fellowship program, we help create a qualified pool of physicians who can provide highly professional and technically correct forensic pathology services in the community.
Impact On Families
The unexpectedness of death is a source of trauma, anxiety and grief among survivors. In many instances, the investigator from our office is the first person to talk with the bereaved. Talking to the bereaved is a sacred responsibility, and we strive to conduct ourselves with compassion, caring and genuine concern. This is a critical aspect in serving our public.
For the decedent's family, the issuance of death certificates is one of the most important functions performed by the Medical Examiner's office. A properly completed death certificate is required for the collection of insurance and settlement of estates. Additionally, an incomplete or improperly completed death certificate creates extreme difficulties for family or friends trying to arrange burial or cremation.
Impact On The Criminal Justice Process
Deaths due to homicide represent a significant percentage of our work. The results of the our investigation and autopsy findings are a critical part of the investigation and prosecution in homicide cases. Forensic pathology also plays a part in all motor vehicle deaths, which sometimes involve criminal or civil liability. Our staff prides itself in working with both prosecutors and defense attorneys to assist them in understanding the results of the death investigation and autopsy, which improves the efficiency of the criminal justice system.