Branches of Forensic Medicine

Forensic medicine is a multidisciplinary field that draws on medicine, chemistry, and biology, as well as physics, psychology, computer science, geology, and social science. Forensic medicine encompasses a broad range of professional interests and, in fact, is concerned with any aspect of medicine that helps in legal aids.

Forensic Medicine has many branches, some of which are as follows:

1. Forensic Toxicology

2. Forensic Serology

3. Forensic Pathology

4. Forensic Anthropology

5. Clinical Forensic Medicine

6. Forensic Psychiatry

1. Forensic Toxicology

Forensic toxicology is an interdisciplinary field that analyses and interprets drugs and chemicals in biological samples for legal purposes using methods from analytical chemistry, pharmacology, and toxicology. They must take into account any documented clinical signs and symptoms, any pathological changes caused by poisonings, and any evidence collected at a crime scene, such as pill bottles, powders, trace residue, and chemicals. With this information and samples to work with, the forensic toxicologist must determine which toxic substances are present, at what concentrations, and what effect those chemicals are likely to have on the person. The forensic toxicologist is involved not only in the testing of body fluids and tissue for drugs and poisons, but also in the interpretation in a judicial context.

glass bottles on shelf

2. Forensic Serology

Forensic serology is the application of biology to law enforcement. It is also known as the Science of Forensic Material Evidence or Forensic Physical Evidence. Forensic biology is the study of serological and DNA analyses of bodily (physiological) fluids in order to identify and individualise people. The material typically examined includes, but is not limited to, blood, sperm, urine, saliva, and dental pulp collected at crime scenes, victims, suspects and from articles of physical evidence. The ultimate goal is to determine what type of material is present and then link that material to a specific person using DNA analysis. Forensics serologists are also called in to perform paternity tests.


3. Forensic Pathology

Forensic pathology is concerned with the investigation of the cause and manner of death through the examination of a dead corpse during the medicolegal investigation of criminal and civil law matters.

4. Forensic Anthropology

Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical anthropology and human osteology (the study of the human skeleton). Forensic anthropologists can help in the recovery of human remains, as well as determining age, race, sex, size, and ancestry, as well as analyzing trauma and sickness. To identify a decedent, forensic anthropologists commonly collaborate with forensic pathologists, forensic odontologists, and homicide investigators. They also aid in the discovery of trauma evidence and the determination of the postmortem period.

5. Clinical Forensic Medicine

Clinical forensic medicine is a branch of forensic medicine that deals with the evaluation and interpretation of injuries and illnesses in living people. Clinical forensic medicine is primarily focused with providing forensic medical services and medical advice to living patients, notably in the context of criminal investigations.

6. Forensic Psychiatry

Forensic psychiatry is the application of psychology and psychiatry science to the law and legal system. It investigates, evaluates, and identifies mental illnesses and human behaviour in order to obtain legal evidence. Forensic psychiatrists are frequently called upon to conduct behavioural and psychological evaluations of criminals, crime victims, and people involved in major disasters. Forensic psychiatrists consult and testify on issues such as competency, sentencing recommendations, treatment suggestions, and criminals’ future danger. They may also write reports on criminal responsibility, criminal profiles, and symptoms of criminals and non-criminals. Forensic psychiatry experts may also testify on criminal evaluations, malingering, feigned symptoms, forensic assessment, personality disorders, settled insanity, mental status, mental capacity, wrongful commitment, and inadequate informed consent.

woman in black long sleeve shirt sitting on brown wooden chair