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S Loue. (Pp 203; price not stated). Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 2002. ISBN 0-306-46792-5
Sane Loue’s book Case studies in forensic epidemiology represents a significant turning point in our habitual conception of epiemiology as a statistical indicator of the extent to which the population is affected by some infectious—that is, toxicological—agent.
The reader is attracted by the title of the book itself because forensic epidemiology is much less elaborated in professional literature than some epidemiological research within different specialist fields of medical science. The author is very successful in presenting the application of forensic epidemiology, as well as its role in court trials, as a bridge between many criminal deviations of the society, and its responsibility for crimes committed. Her final goal is getting court and police officials to apply efficient changes to negative social actions.
In eight case studies within 12 chapters of the book the author describes the connection between court trials and important epidemiological analysis that can be found in the cases of many trials started by women smokers who had silicon breast implantations done, which consequently caused them serious health problems. In this connection the author describes the obstacles attorneys and judges are faced with while prosecuting powerful tobacco lobbies, pointing out the core of the problem, that is an evident hazardous effect of smoking to human health.
As a forensic expert I would point out case study five in chapter eight that deals with road accidents caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol. The fact that road accidents caused by drunk drivers represent the main cause of most such accidents, is corroborated by some alarming epidemiological data. In this connection, the author describes the activities of non-profit organisation Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, which achieves significant results in making the public aware of the problem. Moreover, they organise legal help to the families of the victims of such accidents, which makes the organisation recognisable and increasingly influential in trials against irresponsible drivers.
It was the author’s goal, which she entirely managed to achieve, to explain the extremely important role of forensic epidemiology in court trials. To sum up, this extraordinary work represents a significant contribution to a succesful solving, within the framework of legal system, of difficult and painful court epidemiological problems of the society.
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