Identification of the victims of a mass fatality incident is considered a basic human right.Forensic odontology frequently makes a significant contribution to the identification process following major disasters, and is considered a primary identifier in the Interpol Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) Guidelines. Many authors have indicated that to achieve identification with dignity and respect requires practical guidelines and standard operating procedures. No internationally accepted guidelines currently exist for the practice of forensic odontology in DVI situations. This report documents the development of a comprehensive practice guide for use by Australian forensic odontologists in a mass fatality incident. To understand the value of this document in a professional context the project also looked at the development and application of forensic odontology in multiple fatality incidents in Australia. This evolution has seen forensic odontology grow from a spasmodically used ad-hoc service to the consistent professional service delivered by practitioners today. The research question addressed in this project was “Is the Delphi technique is an appropriate tool to assist the Australian Society of Forensic Odontology to develop a set of guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures for Disaster Victim Identification practices”? Thirty one members of the Australian Society of Forensic Odontology and four members of various Australian police services and the private disaster management sector participated in the project. The participants set the level of consensus against which they wished to work and took 4 rounds to reach agreement on the contents of the document. The resultant document, the “Disaster Victim Identification Forensic Odontology Guide” is comprehensive in coverage, meets many of the criteria established to define quality and places the Australian Society of Forensic Odontology at the vanguard of professionalism in the forensic odontology community, and confirms the Delphi technique was an appropriate tool to assist in the development of a set of guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures for Disaster Victim Identification practices.
University of Newcastle Research Higher Degree Thesis