UZ Leuven recognised as Belgium's first Forensic Medical Institute
The ministry of Justice has recognised the forensic medicine service at teaching hospital UZ Leuven as the first Forensic Medical Institute (FMI) in Belgium, Justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt announced on Thursday. There will eventually be five institutes covering the whole country.
Autopsies are carried out in 0.5 to 1 per cent of deaths in Belgium, but 10 per cent is recommended at the European level. According to figures from the Royal Belgian Society for Forensic Medicine from 2013, approximately 70 suspicious deaths go unnoticed in Belgium every year. In total, roughly 140 murders are registered every year.
There are about 40 medical specialists and assistants in training as medical examiners in Belgium. Doctors who diagnose a death in primary care do not always have sufficient expertise to detect a suspicious death. For example, tiny haemorrhages in the eyes are not always noticeable, but they can be an indication of strangulation as a cause of death.
2.25 million euros was allocated last year to establish more FMIs in Belgium, with UZ Leuven chosen from six candidates to be the first. It will receive a subsidy of 474,000 euros in 2023 and 1.2 million in 2024. These amounts are intended to enable the professionalisation of the forensic medicine department, ensure a long-term influx of forensic doctors, improve service to the courts and provide the latest techniques and technologies in the field.
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