Complex Genetics

Forensic Epidemiology

The team Forensic Epidemiology is part of the CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care at Maastricht University. The discipline of forensic epidemiology (FE) is a hybrid of principles and practices common to both forensic medicine and epidemiology. FE is directed at filling the gap between clinical judgment and epidemiological data for determinations of causality in civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution and defense. Forensic epidemiologists formulate evidence-based probabilistic conclusions about the type and quantity of causal association between an antecedent harmful exposure and an injury or disease outcome in both populations and individuals. The conclusions resulting from an FE analysis can support legal decision-making regarding guilt or innocence in criminal actions, and provide an evidentiary support for findings of causal association in civil actions. Applications of forensic epidemiologic principles are found in a wide variety of types of civil litigation, including cases of medical negligence, toxic or mass tort, pharmaceutical adverse events, medical device and consumer product failures, traffic crash-related injury and death, person identification and life expectancy.

The ongoing research projects

  • Development of the principles of evidence-based reporting in forensic medicine (PERFORM)
  • Forensic Epidemiology: Principles and Practices (FOREPID)
  • Injury causation analysis: Methods for estimating the base rate of symptomatic conversion of degenerative conditions
  • National trends in police use of force-related hospital admissions in the United States
  • Forensic epidemiologic analysis of the reliability of injury patterns in death investigation
  • An evaluation of the diagnostic accuracy of pediatric fracture patterns as a proxy for abuse
  • Characteristics of cervical spinal disk injuries of traumatic etiology

Team leader

Michael Freeman, MD, PhD

Last 10 publications

  1. Freeman MD, Goodyear S, Leith W. Risk factors for neonatal brachial plexus injury; a multistate epidemiologic study of matched maternal and newborn discharge records. Int J Gynecology & Obstetrics (in press)
  2. Zeegers M, Bours M, Freeman M. Methods used in forensic epidemiological analysis. In: Zeegers M, Freeman M, eds. Forensic Epidemiology: principles and practices London: Elsevier; 2016
  3. Siegerink B, den Hollander W, Zeegers M, Middelburg R. Causal Inference in Law: An Epidemiological Perspective. European journal of Risk Regulation 2016; 1: 175-86
  4. Faure M, Visscher L, Zeegers M, Freeman M. The role of the expert witness. In: Zeegers M, Freeman M, eds. Forensic Epidemiology: principles and practices London: Elsevier; 2016
  5. Freeman MD, Zeegers MP. Principles and applications of forensic epidemiology in the medicolegal setting. Law Probability and Risk 2015; 14(4): 269-78
  6. Rubanzana W, Hedt-Gauthier B, Ntanganira J, Freeman MD. Exposure to effects of genocide as a risk factor for homicide perpetration in Rwanda: A population-based case-control study. J Interpersonal Violence 2015;pii: 0886260515619749. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26681788
  7. Sobczak F, Burdorf A, Zeegers MP. Law and epidemiology: Misinterpretation of epidemiologic information in claims for asbestos-related diseases. OA Epidemiology 2014; 2(1):1
  8. Freeman MD, Cahn PJ, Franklin FA. Applied forensic epidemiology. Part 1: medical negligence. OA Epidemiology 2014;2(1):2
  9. Freeman MD, Eriksson A, Leith W. Head and neck injury patterns in fatal falls: epidemiologic and biomechanical considerations. J Forensic Legal Med 2014;21:64-70
  10. Koehler S, Freeman MD. Forensic epidemiology; a methodology for investigating and quantifying specific causation. Forens Sci Med Path 2014 Jun;10(2):217-22