Hooo-Hooo Volume 10, Nr 2 - Page 11

There appears to be confusion in the mind of some practitioners about who makes the final diagnosis. Too often the client is informed that ;the lab; could not make a diagnosis, so sorry, I cannot help you. Fact of the matter is that the responsibility for making the final diagnosis is that of the referring veterinarian. If you do not want to accept this responsibility, do not do the necropsy. A diagnosis depends on confirming observations and it is not just a “laboratory result”. Laboratories provide results that, with all other information, should be synthesized to make a final, evidence-based diagnosis. The veterinarian investigating the death/disease/ event is responsible for making the final diagnosis; he/she cannot shift the responsibility. The conduct of the veterinarian should be such that the diagnosis is correct, and that it reflects professionalism. Always keep in mind that any one of these cases may end up in a court of law. The Frye and Daubert standards are examples of the way in which courts judge the correctness of diagnoses and the quality of the work done to make the diagnosis. A court applying the Frye standard, must determine whether experts in the particular field in which it belongs, generally accepted the method by which that evidence was obtained. The Daubert Standard is more specific and an assessment must be made: 1. 2. Of whether an expert’s scientific testimony is based on reasoning or methodology that is scientifically valid, and Can properly be applied to the facts at issue. Additionally it will take into consideration: a. Whether the theory or technique in question can be, and has been tested, b. Whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication, c. Its known or potential error rate – how accurate is the test? d. The existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation, and e. Whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community Within this context, it is clear that an intuitive, snap diagnosis will not pass the test. Practicing veterinarians should pay particular attention to the matters raised in a publication dealing with forensic autopsies, and the common mistakes made by experienced pathologists (AR Moritz, 1981). Several unique features of the mistakes are peculiar to the performance of medico-legal autopsies: One is the frequency with which mistakes are made by good pathologists, and the other, the frequency with which a seemingly trivial error turns out to have disastrous consequences. There is no difference in interpreting and applying the legal requirements for conducting post-mortal examinations be they humans or animals. Because we deal with animals, we are not exempted from the legal requirements applying to humans and human pathologists. The following are the most common errors made in doing necropsies for legal purposes 1. Not being aware of the objectives of a medicolegal necropsy General practitioners are generally unaware of the requirements pertaining to legal necropsies. In these cases, information that is usually not provided in routine diagnostic necropsies is required. The information required includes attention to: a. Identification of the animal leaving no doubt about the animal’s identity. b. The time of death. Keeping in mind that this is often very difficult to determine in animals given the variation in size, body cover, and type of intestinal tract. Using forensic entomology may be of help, but a qualified person should make this type of assessment. Veterinarians are not trained to do this assessment. c. Circumstances under which death occurred. This implies a full history and assessment of the circumstances that led to the death of the animal. d. Predisposing factors to the death of 2016 MAY 11