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News from Sensengasse

Since the beginning of March, percussion drills and excavators have been predominant elements of the daily picture in the building of the Department of Forensic Medicine, Sensengasse 2. The Medical University of Vienna is investing one million euros in the general refurbishment of the ground floor.

The time was ripe. Since 1st October the Vienna Public Prosecution Department has directly commissioned the Department of Forensic Medicine of MedUni Vienna to conduct post-mortems. The Rector’s Office did not hesitate long and invested one million euros to be again able to conduct forensic medical post-mortems “in-house” in Sensengasse from the second quarter of 2010 onwards. The activities that had been conducted on two levels before the closure in 2008 will now be carried out on one level, thus creating synergies. Comments Daniele U. Risser, interim head of the Department of Forensic Medicine since the 1st Dec. 2008: "We will have a sufficient number of morgue refrigerator drawers and dissection tables.

Whereas we performed post-mortems on up to 2,200 corpses in an area of around 600m² before the closure, the number of corpses will decline by three quarters and the post-mortem area will be reduced by half if measured in square metres. “This will probably suffice for the projected number of autopsies in the beginning,” adds Risser. Resources can be used more efficiently as everything can be found on one floor. This will also simplify workflows.

Reviving a time-honoured tradition?
This investment is of major importance for MedUni Vienna. “Research and teaching activities had practically come to a standstill,” explains Rector Schütz. “Thanks to this refurbishment we are now again able to meet our university tasks – that is to do research and qualify our students.” The Chair for Forensic Medicine, in addition to being one of the oldest, has always played a major role in international forensic medicine and boasts a high reputation in this field. “At present we have set up a knowledge transfer programme with Vietnam, with the goal to establish state-of-the-art forensic medicine in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for a catchment area of some 20 million people with our help,” tells Risser. Following the opening in May it is planned to build on the old tradition even though it would be best for all stakeholders to implement the overall solution – the new building and the integration of post-mortems that are conducted for the health authorities. Says Rector Schütz: “In my capacity as the Rector of MedUni Vienna I am pleased with the status quo from May onwards, but as a citizen I would again like to have all post-mortems in eastern Austria conducted by forensic doctors.”