Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bioethics Part Deux

Check it.  So the above picture has nothing to do with the case I am about to present to you, but it is something I am fortunate of having two of at the moment.  I am so lucky, I know.  I am contemplating changing my color scheme a little bit, so if one morning you come to my web page and have a seizure from the colors, be warned now.

This one is a doozy.  You are a pathologist for the next five minutes.  So, to get in character, hike up your pants, put on white socks under your dress clothes, and only tuck the front of your shirt in.  You are sitting at home one night in your footy pajamas when your phone rings.  It is a friend/colleague of yours who lives in another state.  He says he says he has been asked to be an expert on dog attacks on a legal case and he would like you to take a look at the autopsy photos as a courtesy.  He explains that a man is suing his neighbor.  Apparently the man's 18 month old son got into his neighbor's back yard where the dog attacked and killed him.  His 6 year old brother found him with the boys body in the dogs mouth.  You agree to take a look at some pictures, even though you are eating because as a pathologist, you have a cement stomach.  So you take a look and see deep wounds on the boys neck as well as scratch marks on his forehead.  You, being the awesome pathologist you are, realize that those are not puncture wounds from teeth, but rather from a knife....hmmmmmm.  You seem to be the only one who has caught and has the professional credibility to change this egregious error made by the medical examiner.  Who do you call first and what do you tell them and why?  Answer to be revealed shortly.


  1. Wow. Ugh...
    I have no idea.
    That's why I have a job where I make copies and bring people coffee.
    No thank you.
    But I can't wait to hear the answer.

  2. I read waaay too many books with plots that begin like your dilemma..."It was a blustery night in Lowtown, streets lined with desolate trees, branches frantically scratching the sky like frantic fingers of death..." My answer: Call the police, and cuff the father!

  3. Great case! Without knowing the dead kid's home address it'd be tough to first call anyone other than my colleague. But assuming this isn't an issue, I imagine it would be most prudent to call the medical examiner who performed the autopsy.

    I would be tempted to call my colleague as well to give him a heads up, but if I could call just one person I'm not sure s/he'd be the right one in this case.

    Is there a single correct answer? I look forward to learning more!