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Medico-Legal Death Investigation Systems – The Nordic Countries


Peter J. T. Knudsen ,

University of Southern Denmark, Odense, DK
About Peter J. T.
Institute of Forensic Medicine
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I. Morild,

The Gade Institute, Bergen, NO
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G. Pettersson,

The National Board of Forensic Medicine, Umeå, SE
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S. Ylijoki-Sørensen

University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, DK
About S.
Institute of Forensic Medicine
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The systems for medico-legal death investigation in the Nordic countries are similar, but there are some variations in the theme. In three countries, when the physician who establishes the death of a person calls the police, the police will themselves decide whether to proceed with a post mortem examination (PME), while Denmark has an institution staffed by physicians who will attend a medico-legal inquest in all cases, where the police is in doubt. The forensic pathologists who perform PMEs work for national authorities in Finland and Sweden and university institutes in Denmark. In Norway, PMEs are mostly performed by full-time forensic pathologists and by part-time forensic pathologists working as hospital pathologists. The PME includes histology, toxicology and genetics, except in Denmark where toxicology and genetics are to be ordered by the police. PMCT is the standard in all forensic autopsies in Denmark. However, in the other countries it is the standard in the major centres, but optional and rarely done in others. The four countries differ in detail but are very similar at basic level. This has been proven for example in Disaster Victim Identification operations such as the Thai Tsunami, where the Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish teams functioned as the “Nordic Team.”

How to Cite: Knudsen, P.J.T., Morild, I., Pettersson, G. and Ylijoki-Sørensen, S., 2022. Medico-Legal Death Investigation Systems – The Nordic Countries. Sri Lanka Journal of Forensic Medicine, Science & Law, 13, pp.37–42. DOI:
Published on 30 Sep 2022.
Peer Reviewed


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