Forensic Pathology Rotation

During the Forensic Pathology rotation, the resident learns proper procedures for dealing with forensic cases and has the opportunity to see a wide range of natural disease processes outside of the usual hospital setting. The Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences houses the Dallas County Medical Examiner's office and is located at 2355 North Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, TX 75207.

All of the medical examiners have full-time faculty appointments at UT Southwestern Medical School where they are actively involved in the academic and teaching program. A large volume of material reflecting both natural disease and unnatural death makes this a popular and informative rotation. Excellent crime and toxicologic laboratories are part of the facility.

Residents are expected to perform medicolegal autopsies on cases including natural deaths, accidents, and suicides under the supervision and direction of a staff medical examiner. Residents are not assigned homicide cases, but are encouraged to observe them. Residents are expected to perform autopsies in appropriate cases.

They do not typically perform more than one case in a day unless it is a weekend or they have a particular interest in a case. When the resident is not performing an autopsy, he or she is expected to observe those that are being performed by the staff and fellows.



One month of active case accrual followed by a one-month case completion period, which runs concurrently with the one month Neuropathology rotation.


Residents attending the Forensic Pathology rotation must have completed at least one year of residency and at least one rotation in hospital autopsy.



  • Didactic forensic lecture series
  • Journal Club (monthly)
  • Brain cutting
  • Neuropath microscopics
  • “Pending” conference (weekly)

Basic Reading

  • Spitz and Fisher's Medicolegal Investigation of Death: Guidelines for the Application of Pathology to Crime Investigation, 3rd edition, by Spitz
  • Forensic Pathology, 2nd edition, by DiMaio D and DiMaio VJM
  • Gunshot Wounds: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques, 2nd Edition, by DiMaio VJM
  • Forensic Pathology: Principles and Practice by Dolinak D, Matshes E, and Lew EO