DNA and Clinical Forensic Medicine

August10, 2016

The use of DNA testing by law enforcement agencies has had a very significant impact on the investigation of crimes against the person. Developed in the mid-1980s, DNA ‘fingerprinting’ has been refined to a point where this profiling has almost attained infallibility status. Forensic physicians and forensic nurses frequently collect biological specimens that will be analysed for their DNA fingerprint. The entire collection and analysis procedures are not immune from errors that can have adverse outcomes in court. In particular, the potential for contamination is always present. These contamination considerations have been discussed in some detail in a chapter on DNA contamination in the recently released Current Practice in Forensic Medicine, Volume 2, edited by John Gall and Jason Payne-James. The chapter deals with examples of DNA contamination that have the potential to result in a wrongful conviction and presents a practical approach to minimising this contamination in medico-legal cases. The book is available from all leading medical book sellers.