We, the employees of the Center for Forensic Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna, have set ourselves the goal of providing principals and relatives with expertise to the best of our ability while observing the following standards:
1) First-class handling and performance
2) Objectivity, i.e. committed to the facts alone
3) Understandability and transparency
The difficult economic situation and an ensuing environment which consequently does not meet international standards pose a challenge that we face ambitiously.
Medicine is equated primarily with the treatment of sick people and the scientific study of illnesses. However, our society expects something else from medicine: providing an expert opinion. In addition to medical diagnoses and treatments, expert assessment has now become an important part of a physician’s role, both in the interests of patients and the general public. Such expert assessments are carried out by many experienced physicians from varying specialisations (psychiatry, obstetrics, paediatrics, etc.), often at universities.
In our legal system, forensic medicine assumes the role of an expert medical authority, particularly in cases of violent crime and especially those resulting in death. It creates links between medical facts and legal issues, making it a crucial part of the rule of law in our country.
Forensic medicine has a special position at medical universities because, in contrast to pathology, for instance, it is not involved in diagnosis, the actual core field of pathology, or treatment at any stage. This special position is an essential part of it being able to assess medical malpractice objectively and independently, among other things
The absolute independence of all sworn court and forensic experts, both from the legal and financial standpoints, is a key pillar of any democratic state under the rule of law. Only a ‘forensic medicine’ with completely independent experts free from instruction guarantees that ‘the truth will be established objectively’ and therefore enables ‘the option of justice’.
Forensic medicine is a multi-faceted scientific discipline, which provides insights of major importance into many areas of society and medicine. Carrying out post-mortem examinations constitutes an important quality check for medicine – post-mortems are a fixed part of so-called ‘good medical practice’. Post-mortems help to determine the cause of death and to deliver the basis for decisions to be taken regarding the development of medical methods. Post-mortems are essential in ensuring that causes of death are recorded correctly for statistical purposes and in identifying violent deaths.