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FRONTLINE: Post Mortem

Airs Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012 at 10 p.m. & Friday, Feb. 3 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Bodies at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, one of the biggest and busiest in the country.

Every day, nearly 7,000 people die in America. And when these deaths happen suddenly, or under suspicious circumstances, we assume there will be a thorough investigation, just like we see on "CSI." But the reality is very different.

Los Angeles County coroner vehicle
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Above: Los Angeles County coroner vehicle

In over 1,300 counties across America, elected coroners, many with no medical or scientific background, are in charge of death investigations. Nationwide there is a severe shortage of competent forensic pathologists to do autopsies.

The rate of autopsies—the gold standard of death investigation—has plummeted over the decades. As a result, not only do murderers go free and innocent people go to jail, but the crisis in death investigation in America is also a threat to public health.

In "Post Mortem," FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman reports the results of a joint investigation with ProPublica, NPR, and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley.

FRONTLINE is on Facebook, and follow @frontlinepbs on Twitter.

Video

Full Episode: Frontline: Post Mortem

Your browser does not support this object. Content can be viewed at actual source page: http://video.kpbs.org/video/1774485437

Watch Post Mortem on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Above: In "Post Mortem," FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman reports the results of a joint investigation with ProPublica, NPR, and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley.

Video

"Post Mortem" Sneak Peek: You've Never Seen This On "CSI"

Above: In this video clip from "Post Mortem," coroner Tim Brown of Marlboro County, SC, talks about his most famous -- and controversial -- case: the death of athlete Michael Jordan's father.

Video

"Post Mortem" Sneak Peek: Should We Abolish Coroners?

Above: In this clip from "Post Mortem," leading medical investigators call for national standards in death investigation.

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