Feb. 1, 2011
Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America
Yet, because of an extreme shortage of forensic pathologists — the country has fewer than half the specialists it needs, a 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences  concluded — even physicians who flunk their board exams find jobs in the field. Uncertified doctors who have failed the exam are employed by county offices in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California, officials in those states acknowledged. Two of the six doctors in Arkansas’ state medical examiner’s office have failed the test, according to the agency’s top doctor.
In many places, the person tasked with making the official ruling on how people die isn’t a doctor at all. In nearly 1,600 counties across the country, elected or appointed coroners who may have no qualifications beyond a high-school degree have the final say on whether fatalities are homicides, suicides, accidents or the result of natural or undetermined causes.
Read the full article at ProPublica
Watch the full FRONTLINE program online [53 min 40 sec].
The Real CSI: Death Detective Dysfunction (NPR)