William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Friday, 31, December, 2010

Michael Jackson Autopsy

Filed under: Forensics,Haterade,People who need pianos dropped on them — williamthecoroner @ 16:18

I am all for programs that educate people about forensics and what it is that we as pathologists can and (more importantly) cannot do. I despise people who want to sensationalize or emphasize the creepiness of what it is we do. We provide a valuable service, both for quality control and public health monitoring.

The Discovery channel was going to air a “fictionalized, reenactment” of Michael Jackson’s autopsy, but people complained that it was in bad taste and profiteering from his death. Now, his estate has been flogging that dead horse until the hair has fallen off, so the idea, while disgusting, isn’t totally inconceivable. It’s wrong, but perfectly conceivable.

The other thing is, Jackson died of a drug overdose. I have performed over 1200 autopsies (frankly, I’ve lost count of the exact number) and I have done plenty of drug overdose autopsies. An important part of drug overdose autopsies–there are usually no physical findings. Perhaps there is the smell of alcohol. But mostly, nothing. Times like this we say “The secret’s in the sauce” and send off the sample for toxicology. And wait. Toxicology testing takes time, and even at the best of times takes a couple of days, and I’m more used to six-week lag times.

Could make a very boring TV show, particularly if it was shot in real-time.

1 Comment »

  1. Maybe the real reason they wanted to do a TV “autopsy” has less to do with finding out how the man-child died and more to do with the popular curiousity about which plastic surgeries had really been performed and how all those patches were supposed to be holding together?

    “Oh, look: That part really _was_ plastic!”


    Comment by Thoryke — Saturday, 1, January, 2011 @ 10:10 | Reply

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