A review of the diversity in taxonomy, definitions, scope, and roles in forensic medicine: implications for evidence-based practice

Putri Dianita Ika Meilia*, Michael D. Freeman, Herkutanto, Maurice P. Zeegers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


The scope, roles, and tasks of forensic medicine and forensic medical experts currently vary widely between countries and legal systems, which has resulted in barriers to organization, standard setting, and quality assurance for practice in forensic medicine, including for reporting. The legal fact finder is thus confronted with variability in the quality, structure, and content of forensic medical reports. We sought to define and categorize the scope, methods, and practices that fall under the description of forensic medicine, the various issues encountered in current forensic medical practice, and the potential role of evidence-based practice in forensic medicine. We searched electronic databases and reviewed relevant articles, as well as conducting personal correspondences with forensic medical practitioners around the world, to obtain a description of current forensic medical practice. The terms forensic medicine, legal medicine, medical jurisprudence, medico-legal services, forensic pathology, and clinical forensic medicine are used with mixed interpretations in different countries. The systems and services rendered are not uniform either. The methods used by forensic medical practitioners are not always evidence-based, or based on standardized methods, and vary greatly between experts and centers. There are also no universally accepted guidelines to prepare a standard and admissible report. The lack of a uniform system in forensic medicine creates difficulties in assessing the development and performance of forensic medicine as a distinct discipline. To prepare evidence-based forensic medical reports, generally accepted guidelines are necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-468
Number of pages9
JournalForensic Science Medicine and Pathology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Forensic medicine
  • Forensic pathology
  • Clinical forensic medicine
  • Medico-legal studies
  • Evidence-based practice
  • NEED

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