Forensic Medicine and Imaging

The focus is on performing forensic examinations on living and dead persons on behalf of the prosecuting authorities. The aim is to provide clarification in respect of possible criminal offenses against life and limb and also offenses of a sexual nature. This includes examining bodies where they were found or where a crime was committed (legal inspection), tomography investigations, 3D surface documentation and autopsies, as well as examinations of living persons, including securing of evidence from both victims and suspects (physical injuries, child abuse, sex offenses, attempted murders, etc.).

The Institute of Forensic Medicine at Bern also drafts reports on forensics issues or medical errors, some of which will constitute a decisive expert opinion. Reconstruction-type assessments are produced on the basis of 3D documentation, particularly in connection with crimes or traffic accidents.

Specifically, the forensic medicine service offered includes investigations following a death by means of an external inspection of the body where it was found or the crime was committed (legal inspection) and/or an internal inspection of the body (autopsy and imaging). Histopathology investigations are then performed afterwards as required.

The idea is to explain any unusual deaths (suicides, accidents, deaths in custody, homicides, traffic accidents including those involving aircraft, medical errors). The Institute of Forensic Medicine also helps with the identification process following events involving just one person or those where many people are involved.

Examination of living persons, including the securing of evidence (victims and possible perpetrators) with a view to clarifying:

  •     physical injuries
  •     child abuse
  •     sex offenses

-> Early examination is recommended for the purpose of documenting injuries and securing evidence. Points of contact for victims (a forensic pathologist is called in even before a police report is filed):

  •     Physical injuries to adults: City emergency service, tel.: +41 (0)31 326 20 00
  •     Child abuse/sex offenses where victims are children: Children's Department at Bern University Hospital, tel.: +41 (0)31 632 92 77
  •     Sex offenses where victims are women: Women's Department at Bern University Hospital, tel.: +41 (0)31 632 10 10 or police contact point, +41 (0)31 332 77 77 (voice mail service, police official will call back immediately)

Investigations of deaths can be enhanced by documenting findings relating to the body or other objects with the help of modern imaging processes (3D optical surface scanning, CT, postmortem vascular imaging (angiography) and even MRI). These can be used, for example, to document formal aspects of injuries (bites, marks left by weapons, footprints, tire tracks, etc.) and provide 3D X-ray visualizations of complex crime scenarios or accident reconstructions based on "3D real data".

Modern imaging processes can also be used during clinical examinations, including MRI examinations of the neck for victims of suspected strangulation and 3D optical surface scanning in order to document the formal aspects of injuries with a view to reconstructing a crime and identifying the weapon.

Medical errors, reports

Decisive expert opinions

Forensic 3D reconstructions are very helpful in terms of clarifying:

  •     Homicides
  •     Gunshot wounds
  •     Traffic accidents
  •     Workplace accidents

Forensic Entomology is a national center for forensic investigations involving insects, which includes estimating the time since a person has died.