Fatality review and the role of the forensic psychiatrist

Susan Hatters Friedman, Jason W. Beaman, Joshua B. Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Multidisciplinary Fatality Review teams have operated for decades in the United States and across the developed world. Goals of these teams include examining individual deaths in the community to deter-mine preventability and to make recommendations for future prevention. Fatality Review teams initially focused on child deaths but have expanded to include deaths from domestic violence, elder abuse, over-dose, and maternal mortality. Case reviews include data from various agencies that have had contact with victims and perpetrators prior to the deaths. Cause of death and preventability are analyzed. Preventable deaths often include those with risk from mental illness or addiction. Recommendations made by Fatality Review teams have led to important changes for mental health services and prevention, including the Safe Haven laws for neonaticide prevention, suicide and homicide prevention, child murder prevention, firearm laws, and domestic violence screening. Fatality Review teams, which already include law enforcement and forensic pathologists, can benefit from collaboration with forensic psychiatrists because of their specialized knowledge about the intersection of mental illness and violence, should forensic psychiatrists have an opportunity to join them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-405
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021


  • Child death
  • Domestic violence
  • Elder abuse
  • Fatality review
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Homicide


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