LIVE COVERAGE: Identifying the Lost
This morning, Kevin Whaley MD, assistant chief medical examiner, Richmond, VA, presented "‘Lost': Mass Casualty Identification of Human Remains," at ASCP.
Dr. Whaley related the optimal flow of modalities involved with identifying remains as Admitting, Photography, Radiology, Pathology, Anthropology, Odontology, Fingerprinting, to DNA.
- Admitting involves maintaining the remains integrity and documentation.
- In the photography step, the clothed remains and cleaned personal effects which could help identify the remains (e.g., jewelry, dry cleaning tags, sizes, clothing associated with a particular event like a family reunion, and wallet contents) are photographed.
- Radiological assessment can identify any surgical hardware or unique osseous morphology in the remains.
- Anthropometrics highlights sex, weight, height and body habitus, or the general weight distribution, and internal studies of bone growth.
- Pathological assessment includes body modification, decomposition, prostheses, scars, fibrotic disease processes and surgical procedures.
- In odontology, challenges are present in obtaining records and in adequate charting and radiology.
- DNA reference samples can be taken from a tooth- or hairbrush, razor, unwashed undergarments, soiled personal hygiene products or biological specimens to compare to the remains. Dr. Whaley discussed nuclear and mitochondrial DNA identification
Dr. Whaley helped attendees understand the various methods of human identification, with case studies from mass casualty, and to understand the layout and work flow of postmortem identification with regards to mass disasters.