History taking

History taking is an essential part of clinical practice and is even more vital in death investigation. However, the reliability of the history provided should be questioned in all medico-legal cases. History provided may often be incomplete, unclear and confusing. To make matters worse, there may be two or more contradicting histories. At times, the  family/perpetrator may provide false history to mislead the investigation. It is advisable to listen to all narratives, and keep them in your mind but at the same time never be biased based on history provided.

Some experts have suggested that autopsy must be performed blindly, without knowledge of history. This is controversial as some cases may be diagnosed only after examination of the scene of death. It may also be necessary to approach other experts, to obtain information that can help in corroborating the autopsy findings. In situations where cause of death could not be established, the doctor can do no more than enter his most reasoned choice or, in all honesty, state that the cause could not be determined.