Moreover, in reality, most deaths are due to natural causes, disease, accidents, undetected anatomical defects, mental llness, and so on- and no crimes are involved.In this enlightening and entertaining autobiography, Dr. Judy Melinek describes her two years as a forensic pathology fellow at the 'Office of the Chief Medical Examiner' ( OCME) in New York, where she honed her chops as an ME.
Dr. Judy MelinekThe ME 's job is to determine the cause and manner of death in cases where the deceased dies suddenly, violently, unexpectedly, in suspicious circumstances, etc.When Melinek graduated from UCLA Medical School in 1996, she wanted to be a physician.
Melinek 's interest in the field may have stemmed, in part, from the suicide of her ather at age 38, when she was 13 years old- an event she discusses extensively in the book.Melinek, her husband J.T. Mitchell ( the co-author of this memoi), and their baby Daniel settled down in New York in 2001.Dr. Judy Melinek and her husband J.T. Mitchell There, Melinek began work at the OCME under the tutelage of Dr. Charles Hirsch- whom she describes as " a pipe-smoking, avuncular doctor out of a Norman Rockwell painting. " Dr. Charles HirschAmong other things, Hirsch held morning rounds and afternoon rounds, at which the medical examiners presented their findings and discussed what to write on death certificates about the cause and manner of death.
These determinations were made using a ariety of means, such as: the autopsy; visiting the death scene; reviewing medical records; speaking to witnesses; consulting detectives; and so on ... ..all while collecting evidence that might be used in court.When assigned a body to autopsy, the last thing an ME does is examine the person 's external characteristics, and make a record of bruises, cuts, scrapes, scars, tattoos, burns, needle marks, and so on.
The ME then goes on to probe the inside of the bodie, and these procedures are thoroughly described in the book.Medical examiner noting a body 's external characteristicsDuring her two years at the OCME Melinek worked on a wide assortmen of cases, including victims of the World Trade Center disaster; people who contracted anthrax from a bioterrorism scare; and bodies from American Airlines Flight 587- which crashed in NYC.
To provide a feel for Melinek 's job, I 'll give examples of some of the ases she worked on or observed.Cable GuyA man dubbed 'Cable Guy' smoked crystal meth before walking his dogs, and accidentally locked himself out of his 9th floor apartment.
The unfortunate victim 's death was ruled accidental.AlcoholismMelinek performed scores of autopsies on people who died of acute or chronic alcohol intoxication.
Melinek 's last autopsy in New York was on a victim who died of acute AND chronic alcohol poisoning.
These included: bad sushi, poisonous beer, misuse of a classmat 's asthma medication, anthrax, Nyquil, and dust mites.When the toxicology report was finally completed, it showed a lethal concoction of heroin, cocaine, and the sedative diazepam ... ..and Melinek ruled Ward 's death an accident.
However Mrs. Ward could n't let it go, and now insisted that Bobby 's death was a murde, the fault of the dealer who sold him the drugs.The Bucket BugabooA police officer brought the OCME a goop-filled bucket that looked like it might contain a dead fetus.
The hotel jumpers might have expected a smooth fall to the ground, but they generally pinballed and bumped into structures, severing their limbs and scattering their brains all over.Sometimes apparent 'suicides' were actually homicides or accidents, and the ME 's final determination depended on investigation of the death scene; information provided by families and police detectives; a suicide note; and so on.Attack on the World Trade CenterOn September 11, 2001- nine weeks after Melinek started work at the OCME- two planes collided with the World Trade Centr, causing thousands of deaths.