Medical Detective

In this rotation, you will assume two separate roles over two groups of tasks. First, you will play the role of junior investigator at Hammond Investigations, working on the case of a woman who has died from a gun shot wound. Later, you will assume the role of an intern at Highland Hospital, where you will investigate the case of a college athlete who collapsed on the basketball court. You will follow this patient from the ICU to, unfortunately, the County Medical Examiner’s Office, where you will work with the Medical Examiner to determine the decedent’s (i.e., dead person) cause of death.

As part of your work, you will consider evidence to determine whether a crime was a homicide or suicide, closely examining crime scene photographs to conduct your analysis. (In some cases, these images have been slightly modified to make them less disturbing.) You will also consider end of life decisions, and examine images of cross sections of organs to determine your patient’s cause of death.

Note that the mature and sometimes graphic nature of the subject matter in this rotation may be disturbing for sensitive students. Students are encouraged to discuss with their parents/guardians their mutual comfort level with engaging in the activities required in this rotation before participating in it. A parent/guardian permission letter is available for mentors to require, at their discretion, prior to beginning the rotation work.

What is a junior investigator?
Junior investigators at Hammond Investigations work with private investigator, K.C. Hammond, to try to determine what events and circumstances resulted in suspicious deaths. To do so, they examine and analyze police reports, interviews, and other gathered evidence and suggest additional evidence to obtain. They also, sometimes, must appear in court to testify about their cases.

What is an intern?
An intern is a first-year doctor who has completed medical school; interns are closely supervised by more senior doctors.

What is a Medical Examiner?
The job of medical examiner is a public service position. The medical examiner is a physician who conducts autopsies to determine the cause, circumstances, and manner of death of cadavers brought to the examiner’s office.


What will I do during this rotation?
In your role as a junior investigator, your goal is to determine whether gunshot victim, Linda Lawson’s death was an act of homicide or suicide. You will gather evidence including forensics, autopsy findings, and witness statements. You will look for links or patterns in the evidence, and test your hypotheses about the case until you arrive at a logical conclusion that is supported by the facts.

As an intern, you will be assigned to the case of a college athlete who has fallen critically ill. You will exercise your knowledge of human physiology, anatomy and ethics, learning key steps in the process of conducting autopsies along the way. You will also practice skills such as, problem solving, research, writing, and communication – to determine the cause of the patient’s illness and subsequent death.

I’m not investigator or a doctor! How will I be able to solve these cases?
This rotation provides many resources, including step-by-step guides, to help you think through the problem you are solving one step at a time. In addition, you’ll be working with other interns and investigators, so you will be able to bounce ideas off your teammates, and give and receive feedback from them. Also, a mentor will be available to help you when you have questions, and will give you feedback on your work.

How do I get started?
Simply click on Case 1 - Linda Lawson: Your Tasks in the menu to the left. Then proceed to 1.1 Begin the Investigation and read the first email describing what you must do. Once you’ve read this email, you can look at the Get help section of the task for a step-by-step guide and other resources to help you do your work.