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J Forensic Sci. 2013 May;58(3):664-72. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.12108. Epub 2013 Mar 12.

Expert interpretation of bitemark injuries--a contemporary qualitative study.

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School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, NSW, Australia.

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This study attempts to characterize the nature of disagreement among odontologists in determining the fundamental properties of suspected bitemark injuries. Fifteen odontologists were asked to freely comment on six images of supposed bitemarks. Qualitative analysis using a grounded theory approach revealed that practitioner agreement was at best fair, with wide-ranging opinions on the origin, circumstance, and characteristics of the wound given for all six images. More experienced practitioners (>10 years) tended to agree with each other less than those who had 10 years or less experience in forensic odontology. The differences in opinions can be at least partly accounted for by the inconsistent nature of approaches used by different practitioners in assessing bitemark evidence. The results of this study indicate that more definitive guidelines as to the assessment of bitemarks as patterned injuries should be developed to ensure the highest possible level of practitioner agreement.

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