Identification of Bodies by Unique Serial Numbers on Implanted Medical Devices
Visual identification is the most common identification method used by medical examiners but is not always possible. Alternative methods include X‐ray, fingerprint, or DNA comparison, but these methods require additional resources. Comparison of serial numbers on implanted medical devices is a rapid and definitive method of identification. To assess the practicality of using this method, we reviewed 608 consecutive forensic autopsies performed at a regional medical examiner office. Of these, 56 cases required an alternative method of identification due to decomposition (n = 35), gunshot wound (n = 9), blunt trauma (n = 6), or charring (n = 6). Of these 56 cases, eight (14.3%) were known to have an implanted medical device. Of these eight cases, five (63%) could be positively identified by comparing serial numbers. If an implanted medical device is known to be present, and medical records are available, identification by medical device serial number should be a first‐line method.
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