Dr Oz: Dr G Medical Examiner
Her name is Jan Garavaglia, but you might know her better as Dr G: Medical Examiner. For six seasons, she has been letting viewers see the process behind autopsies on Discovery’s documentary-style reality series. Now she is sharing her knowledge with Doctor Oz and getting viewers in on the process of determining a cause of death.
Dr Jan Garavaglia is the chief medical examiner for a very populous county in Florida, and was also in the news recently as an expert witness during the Casey Anthony murder trial. In her job, she must determine the causes of unexplained deaths. She shared some of what she has learned with Dr Oz and the audience, putting their knowledge to the test with a real case file.
Dr Oz: How To Become A Medical Examiner
Being a medical examiner may sound like an intriguing job, but it is also a lot of work. In addition to having a strong medical background, she is also doing detective work and using clues to find answers. Though some cases are tougher than others, about 40% of the time patients have died of natural causes.
What should you expect if you are interested in a career as a medical examiner?
- Medical School – 4 years
- Pathology Education – 4 years
- Sudden/Unexpected Death – 1 year
Pathology studies the way that diseases affect body tissues. That adds up to nine years of study before you can get started. But Dr G said that this educational foundation is important because it gives you the tools to connect the dots between the clues and the answer to a medical mystery.
Dr Oz & Dr G: Unexplained Death
Dr Oz and Dr G invited the audience to help them solve a case from the files of Dr G: Medical Examiner. The subject was a woman who weighed 190 pounds and was 5’9” tall. Since she did not like doctors, she did not have much prior medical history to go on.
Dr Oz: Autopsy Examination
Dr G took Dr Oz through an autopsy and highlighted some areas of concern with the patient’s health. The patient had a high Body Mass Index (BMI), which Dr Oz viewers know can be associated with other health problems.
Dr Oz: Autopsy Diabetes Test
During an autopsy, a medical examiner cannot do a blood test for Diabetes once a person has died. But there is still a way she or he can check: drawing fluid from the eye will help determine whether a patient had Diabetes, which was true in this case.
Dr Oz: Fatty Liver Examination
According to Dr G, a healthy liver is round and has sharp edges. But obese or overweight patients tend to have what is called Fatty Liver, which was yellow and greasy when examined.
As for the heart and lungs, the patient’s arteries were clogged with blood clots. These clots, according to Doctor Oz, probably started in the pelvis or legs. Eventually, they broke away and traveled up the body, causing a blockage.
Dr Oz: Liver Cirrhosis
When a patient has a fatty liver, as this person did, it can often progress to a condition called Cirrhosis. That means the liver cells die and are replaced with fat. Typically, this is not a cause of sudden death. Dr Oz added that there would be other visual indications if this were the case.
Dr Oz: Blood Clot Causes
Dr Jan Garavaglia said that even a small amount of weight gain can completely alter your health. It can lead to blood clots, and the more weight you put on, the more likely you are to develop blood clots.
In this case, the cause of death had to do with the patient’s weight gain. Her stomach fat caused a blood clot that traveled to her lungs, causing what is called a Pulmonary Embolism.