Ascertain cause manner and time of death
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Ascertain cause manner and time of death
Ascertain cause, Manner, and Time of Death
The Presumptive Sings of Death include cessation of respiration, cessation of heartbeat, changes in the eyes, and cooling of the body. Positive signs of death indicate that death has occurred. This includes postmortem lividity, postmortem rigidity, instantaneous rigor, postmortem decomposition, and insect invasion. All of these signs of death can help you determine time, cause, and manor of death.
Cessation of respiration is the apparent lack of breathing. In certain types of death like electrocution and drowning, the victim may not be breathing but life may still exist. To determine if breathing is occurring, watch movements of the chest and abdomen. You can also hold a mirror over the mouth or nose too see if the victim is breathing. If breathing is absent, other signs of death should be looked for.
Cessation of heartbeat is the absence of the heart beating. A person qualified using a stethoscope can only determine it. The doctor can\'t always detect a weak heartbeat so feel for the pulse or lay a hand flat over the left side of the chest. If no heartbeat it is likely that death has occurred but it should be confirmed by another person.
Cooling of the body does not indicate death because the body may have cooled of "medical conditions retarding circulation or by prolonged exposure." If death has occurred the body will become the same temperature of its surroundings. The cooling of the body can be different in the area were the body is. If it were found in the snow the body would cool much faster then if it was found on a hot day. If the body is found in room temperature and it is "cool and clammy" it is likely that death has occurred at least 12-24 hours before it was found. " The temperature of the body is affected by the environmental factors involved."
The positive signs of death indicate that death has occurred. Postmortem lividity is livor mortis. This is the result of the blood settling by gravity toward the lowest part of the body. "The areas affected take on the appearance of a patchy mottling, apparent within a half hour after death." This is a very good way to determine the time of death. The condition is "completely developed and permanent in 8 to 12 hours, by witch time the blood has coagulated." Lividity provides information concerning the position of the body after death, so you can tell if a body was moved after death.
Postmortem rigidity or rigor mortis, is the stiffening of the body. The stiffening of the body is caused by chemical changes in the muscle tissue. "Rigor mortis normally starts in the head and neck and progresses down the body in an orderly fashion." This helps determine the time of death because at first when the body dies it is still limp it takes some time for rigor mortis to set in. "Time of death could be estimated at approximately 29-34 hours previous."
Instantaneous rigor is also called cadaveric spasm. This is when the muscles stiffen immediately at the moment of death. "This phenomenon has been for the most part, discredited by contemporary forensic pathologists because of lack of documented cases which would tend to substantiate its existence." This is not a good way to determine time of death because it is hared to tell if it was rigor or instantaneous rigor.
Postmortem decomposition, there are many ways for a body to decompose but the most common is a process called putrefaction. Putrefaction is when the skin starts to peal off the body; "bacteria breaking down the body\'s tissues" cause it. The time that it takes for this process depends on the "temperature, clothing, size of the body, ground conditions. The first sing of putrefaction is a greenish discoloration of the skin, "appearing in 24-72 hours of death." This process will go much faster is the body is in very hot conditions.
Insect invasion is when various insects may eat the flesh and lay eggs in it. "The infestation of maggots can occur in a matter of hours." The insects should be collected because a entomologist can "estimate the date or season a corps was first infested with the insects." This is a
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Death, Medicine, Signs of death, Post-mortem, Livor mortis, Rigor mortis, Cadaveric spasm, Putrefaction, Decomposition, Drowning, Breathing
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