Forensic Pathologist (with Dr. Pilou Thirakul)

People die in the most creative ways and the experienced medical examiners that I work with, they thought they’ve seen it all, and they still are shocked by what they see.

If all goes according to plan I should live to be about 180 years old, in peak health, and then one day die of cardiac arrest while reading a book by myself on my front porch.  But just as life is crazy and throws unexpected things your way, death can do the same.  I may walk out side right now and get attacked by a swarm of bees ala My Girl.  For all of the not so straightforward and ideal deaths out there, today’s guest comes to the rescue.  Dr. Thirakul is a forensic pathologist and it’s her job to find out how people died.

The morgue is like an operating room. You’ve got a person on the table. You’ve got lights on em. And we’ve got the same instruments a surgeon would. We just don’t have to worry about saving anyone and keeping a sterile field.
We save small snippets of every organ in a jar in formaldehyde just in case we need to revisit that or look at it more closely.

Interview Contents

3:50 - The jobs and terminology involved in death investigation.
4:40 - Special vs. non special deaths.
7:00 - The job and process for a forensic pathologist.
14:00 - Working with law enforcement.
10:30 - The information Pilou is given when she receives a body.
13:40 - How long after a body is received does the autopsy begin?
15:00 - Running tests on the body.
17:30 - Autopsy walkthrough.
27:30 - Support roles.
28:30 - Saving organ parts.
31:45 - Strange things that come up during the autopsy.
34:10 - Multiple causes of death.
36:00 - What makes it difficult to determine cause of death?
38:40 - Why are CT scans not done?
40:30 - Why can it take so long to finalize the cause of death?
42:50 - Changing the perceived cause of death on a case.
45:00 - Listening to music while doing autopsies.
46:00 - Talking to the bodies.
46:45 - Pilous’s favorite part of the job.
52:00 - The pay and benefits.
54:30 - Life lessons from being a forensic pathologist.

Links

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This Episode Was Made With The Support Of

Brittany & Matt Marcotte

Michelle & Jim Wortner

Janelle Swanson

Jimmy Seymour

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Blake Fletcher

San Francisco, CA

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