The following guest post was submitted by Dr. Steven Miles, Professor, Center for Bioethics; Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School.
CNN’s doc, Sanjay Gupta is looking into the mirror again and he likes what he sees.
Osama bin Laden is dead and Dr. Gupta could not wait to vicariously examine the body.
As CNN breathless and repeatedly exclaimed in one newscast:
“And still ahead, confirming that it was in fact Osama bin Laden that was killed, it was done incredibly quickly. DNA testing — DNA testing, we’re told, is what did it. We will talk to 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta, who is a certified medical examiner, about how they were able to do it so fast.
CNN chief medical correspondent and certified medical examiner Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to kind of explain how this was possible in so short a time.”
The Certified Medical Examiner is a new tag line for the all-purpose Dr. Gupta who CNN usually identifies as a (board-certified) neurosurgeon and CNN medical correspondent.
But what is this Board Certified Medical Examiner stuff?
Here is the Georgia statute on what it takes to be a medical examiner.
TITLE 45. PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES
CHAPTER 16. CORONERS ARTICLE 4. OFFICE OF MEDICAL EXAMINER
§ 45-16-80. Abolition of office of coroner; qualifications, appointment, compensation, powers, and duties of medical examiners
(c) To be eligible for the office of medical examiner, as established pursuant to this Code section, a person shall:
(1) Have a doctor of medicine degree and be licensed to practice medicine under the provisions of Chapter 34 of Title 43;
(2) Be eligible for certification by the American Board of Pathology; and
(3) Have at least one year of medico-legal training or one year of active experience in a scientific field in which legal or judicial procedures are involved at the county, state, or federal level.
(d) The requirements for medical examiners established pursuant to paragraphs (2) and (3) of subsection (c) of this Code section may be waived by the governing authority of any county in which the office of medical examiner is established pursuant to this Code section but may not be waived for any person for a longer period than one year.
In short, a medical examiner can be just a physician who bothers to get certified or they can be a serious forensic physician. Which one is Dr. Gupta?
What is his medical-legal training?
Which medical examiner’s professional association does he belong to?
Is he eligible for certification by the American Board of Pathology or was that requirement waived?
Has he done any autopsies?
How many cases has he certified as an Medical Examiner as opposed to being a physician?
Has he testified in court as a medical examiner?
Has he ever served as an expert witness in the area of expertise of being a medical examiner?
Or, is the statement that Dr. Gupta is a certified medical examiner just more puffery?
Steven Miles, MD
Professor of Medicine with privileges