Forensic pathology is the subspecialty of pathology that directs its efforts to the examination of living or dead persons in order to provide an opinion concerning the cause, mechanism, and manner of disease, injury or death; the identification of persons; the significance of biological and physical evidence; the correlation and/or reconstruction of wounds, wound patterns, and sequences; and conducting comprehensive medicolegal death investigations.
Forensic pathology applies techniques of pathology to the needs and protection of public health, public safety, quality assurance, education in medicine, research, jurisprudence, and the administration of justice. Its highest goal is the development of strategies to prevent injury, disease, and death.
A forensic pathologist is a pathologist with special training and experience in forensic pathology who is actively engaged in medicolegal autopsies and death investigations. Forensic pathologists shall be board-certified by the American Board of Pathology or American Osteopathic Board of Pathology after appropriate training and passing a rigorous examination, or a non-USA based pathologist with equivalent certification.
The practicing forensic pathologist is licensed in one or more states; he/she is skilled in conducting death investigations, interpreting injuries in both fatal and non-fatal cases, performing medicolegal examinations, determining disease/injury causation to an appropriate degree of medical certainty and determining cause and manner of death.
The autopsy fee-for-service list consists of members of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) who expressed an interest in performing autopsies on a fee-for-service basis.
Member pathologists must log in to access the request form if you want to include your information on the list. The list is a service to members of the public seeking a pathologist to perform an autopsy.
Guidelines for Cooperation Between Pathologists and Funeral Professional
CAP revised these guidelines (PDF, 103 K) at the request of the National Funeral Directors Association. Input was obtained from funeral directors and from pathologists serving on the CAP autopsy and forensic pathology committees.
Sample Forensic Case
Read a sample case on meningococcal meningitis.(Word, 2.3MB)
Guidelines, Statements, and Position Papers
Access other CAP committee topic centers and programs:
CAP Press Publications
The following publications are available for purchase through our CAP Press Publications site.
- Autopsy Performance and Reporting, 2nd Edition
- Handbook of Forensic Pathology, 2nd Edition
CAP Public Policies
The CAP Public Policies outline the CAP's positions on the following issues:
- Technological Adjuncts to the Autopsy
- Optimizing Death Investigations and Forensic Sciences Practices
- Criteria for Autopsies
- Restrictions on the Uses of Autopsy Materials
- Payment and Performance of the Autopsy Service
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Certification of Death
- Observation of an Autopsy as Punishment
- Informed Consent for Autopsy
- Retention of Laboratory Records and Materials
- Autopsy Organ and Tissue Retention
- Requirements of Chief Medical Examiners
Join the Forensic Pathology Committee
Learn more about our committee activities and how to join the forensic pathology committee.
- Login and CAP Membership Required.