Dr. Jan Garavaglia, chief medical examiner for the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner’s Office and star of the Discovery Health Channel’s “Dr. G: Medical Examiner,” took her forensic expertise to the UCF College of Medicine February 13 as she helped judge autopsy reports done by 80 first-year M.D. students. The reports are done at the completion of Anatomy Lab, a rite of passage for young doctors in training.
Unlike most medical schools, UCF doesn’t tell first-year students how their cadaver died. Instead, students must play detective during their 17 weeks in a state-of-the-art anatomy lab run by Professor Andrew Payer. During lab, students scrutinize the organ systems, pathologies and even cell samples of their first patient, the remains of people who have willed their bodies to science.
This year, Payer invited the renowned Dr. G to participate in judging the autopsy reports. “As medical examiner, Dr. Garavaglia serves our community in everything she does,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine. “We are honored she has volunteered to share her expertise with our students.”
After each presentation, Dr. Garavaglia read the patient’s actual death certificate. In one instance, the students believed their patient had died of ischemic heart failure. “In looking at the death certificate, I wish this doctor would have consulted with you,” she said. “He just put down everything he knew about the patient – hypertension, diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia – and figured one of those must have caused his death.”
Dr. Garavaglia presented the top award to Team 13 – Students Galal Elsayed, Giorgio Guiulfo, Michelle Hidalgo, Rikin Patel, Erin Purdy, Morgan Stines and Megan Vu, who found that their patient, a 55-year-old woman, had died from pneumonia related to lung cancer.
After the awards, Dr. Garavaglia attended a reception and posed for pictures with students and members of the College of Medicine’s Assessment Team, who tallied the scores of the autopsy reports. Dr. G’s response to the day of forensic reports: “Today I was so impressed,” she said.