Department of Legal Medicine



Prof. Dr. med. Benjamin Ondruschka

The Department

The Department is primarily responsible for activities in the criminal justice and victim protection areas by order of the law enforcement agencies. The department's work is divided into the following areas:

  • Forensic pathology
  • Forensic radiology / imaging
  • Clinical forensic medicine with the Forensic Medical Examination Center for Victims of Violence
  • Forensic toxicology and alcohology
  • Forensic molecular biology
  • Postmortem tissue donation with cornea bank

The Department of Forensic Medicine is part of the Center for Diagnostic at the Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf.


ForExForensic medicine services for other German Bundesländer and for private persons are provided by ForEx Gutachten GmbH (affiliate of the UKE), a spin off established in 2006. ForEx Gutachten GmbH is also the contact for all those commissioning medical expert opinions / reports to be prepared by experts of the UKE.

Medical Director: Prof. Benjamin Ondruschka
Managing Director: Dr. Axel Heinemann


Special expertise

Served since 1998, the Forensic Pathology Unit is one of the first facilities in Germany to routinely offer for the deceased in addition to the classical forensic medicine evaluation of findings the option of supplemental radiological examinations using imaging techniques.

The Forensic Medical Examination Center for Victims of Violence can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by the persons concerned for an admissible documentation/expert opinion regardless of whether a complaint has been filed with the police. It therefore consent as a model for Germany.

Other special areas of expertise are narcotics analysis as well as the systematic development of tissue donations from the deceased with assent of the next of kin on the basis of the so-called Tissues and Cells Act that went into effect in 2007.

Accredited by: German Accreditation Council DAR


The department's research projects are divided into the following areas:

  • Imaging techniques (validation of autopsy findings, quality assurance, medical malpractise)
  • Victimology (physical and psychological consequences of experiencing violence, research on victim care)
  • SIDS/SID (sudden infant death syndrome / sudden infant death)
  • Forensic gerontology (social medical aspects of care of the elderly and forensic consequences if applicable)
  • Emergencies and deaths due to narcotics use (epidemiology, health services research)
  • Toxicology (identification and action mechanisms of toxic foreign substances)

Teaching and Continuing Education

The Department of Forensic Medicine is involved in the training of medical students in Block 6 with the topics postmortem examination, victimology and toxicology.
In addition, it regularly offers courses for law students as well as for food chemistry students. For certain occupational groups (police, firemen, healthcare workers, etc) we can arrange continuing education courses in forensic medicine topics at any time upon request.

Facts and Figures

In 2007 the following services were provided:

25000External postmortem examinations
1700Examinations of live victims of violence
400Context expert opinions
15000Orders for tests in toxicology and alcohology
3500Orders for tests in forensic molecular biology

Department Statistics
The department has 24 scientists and 44 non-scientists on its staff as well as a variable number of student aids and doctoral students.