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Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
The process requires renewal.
There is administrative cost of the process.
Many offices do not see any benefit to accreditation.
Federal incentives are lacking for states to perform an assessment of death investigation systems to determine status and needs, using as a benchmark and goal compliance with NAME current professional standards, guidelines, and accreditation requirements.
QUALITY CONTROL AND QUALITY ASSURANCE
Quality control and quality assurance begin with the implementation of standardized policies and procedures by qualified staff. For lay medical investigators, registration and certification by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators requires standard performance procedures as outlined in the NIJ document Death Investigation: A Guide for the SceneInvestigator and other published education and training documents.51 For forensic pathologists, basic competence is initially documented by examination and certification and subsequently by recertification by the American Board of Pathology. Written office and morgue policies and procedures with scheduled reviews and updates help ensure consistent performance over time. Professional performance parameters, such as the NIJ investigation guidelines for investigators and the NAME forensic autopsy standards, are offered as national documents that all systems should be able to follow. Professional continuing education must be available and supported, and it should be mandatory.
CONTINUING MEDICAL EDUCATION
For pathologists to maintain professional standing they must earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits in accordance with the number required by their state medical licensing board. Attendance at forensic educational meetings, such as the annual meetings of NAME and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), help keep medical staff current. Other opportunities that offer valuable CME credits are meetings that focus on pediatric forensic issues and general pathology updates. AAFS meetings are multidisciplinary and afford an opportunity for updating in forensic anthropology, forensic odontology, and other forensic disciplines. The American Society of Clinical Pathologists offers CheckSample exercises and
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice. DeathInvestigation: A Guide for the Scene Investigator. Available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.