How Good is your Forensic Medicine?

John E. Cooper and Margaret E. Cooper ask whether you and your practice are prepared


“Forensic medicine? Doesn’t that involve appearing in court? And dealing with some rather unsavoury people and circumstances? No thanks!” The response above is probably fairly typical because most practising veterinary surgeons want to be dealing with patients, not getting embroiled in legal matters. But increasingly the word “forensics” is used to describe a method of working, adopting systems that help ensure that records are accurate, that samples are properly handled, and that reports and opinions are presented in a systematic and professional way – all of which are vital in a modern veterinary practice. How and why then might veterinary surgeons benefit from an understanding of forensic methods? The first is when their practice becomes involved in a potential legal case. The scenario is familiar to many vets. The police or the RSPCA bring a dog or a cat to the practice and ask for it to be examined because there is a suspicion that it has been assaulted or neglected. Or a large animal practitioner is asked to visit a farm where malicious poisoning of stock is alleged. can find the article published in the December 2021 issue of TVE Professional Development