Medicine: Coroners Who Miss All the Clues

Too many medical investigators are ill prepared to spot crimes

The headless, handless body of a woman covered with green algae was fished out of a lake in upstate New York. The hospital pathologist who performed the autopsy judged the slim, athletically built victim to be in her 20s and said she had been dead three weeks. A few days later, medical examiner Michael Baden autopsied the body and came to a startlingly different conclusion. Bone spurs on the woman's spine and her atrophied ovaries revealed that she was about 55 years old, and microscopic study of the algae indicated that the body had been in the water at least 1...

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