This rotation is served at the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office. Teaching is under the direction of board-certified forensic pathologists who assume the responsibility for directing the resident’s training in all areas of the forensic autopsy. Specifically, this includes demonstrating performance of forensic autopsies, the legal implications of post-mortem findings, and handling of evidentiary materials including toxologic materials.

Residents perform a variety of forensic autopsies under the supervision of the faculty, including suicidal gunshot wounds and hangings, motor vehicle accidents (both pedestrians and in-car occupants), other accidental deaths and natural deaths not typically encountered in a hospital setting. Residents perform the examination, dictate all reports, and review microscopic slides for sign-out with the assigned faculty physician on the case. They are also taught how to formulate cause of death statements for death certification. Residents perform up to 10-15 autopsies during the month in the Coroner’s Office. They are also afforded the opportunity to observe the examination of a homicidal death.

In addition to performing autopsies, the residents participate in a variety of activities that provide a full experience of the duties of a forensic pathologist. These activities including observing a faculty physician testify in court, accompanying a deputy coroner to a death scene investigation, attending community-based meetings that review deaths (e.g. Child Death Review), and get a tour of the Sacramento County crime lab. The residents are also expected to attend a four-hour homicide class taught by one of the faculty physicians, which covers the full spectrum of wound classifications for their didactic training.