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2013 TECH-Medical Forensics (H.S.)

Group Size



Rachel Decker


Ink Pad
Fingerprint Sheet

Instructional Procedures

When a person is being treated in a hospital, every effort is made to try to identify the person. However, there are times when a person who is in need of care does not have identification on them or is conscious to inform the medical staff of who they are. In the worst case, they never regain consciousness and no one comes who can identify them. If this occurs, it is up to the Medical Examiner (M.E.) to determine their identity. A Medical Examiner (M.E.) must determine or verify the identity of the deceased. They will perform an autopsy, which includes examination of the body, its internal organs, and testing on body fluids. They will also take fingerprints of the person.

If a family relative is unable to identify a person, what else can identify a person? DNA and fingerprints can, but DNA is expensive and takes a long time to get results. Fingerprints are unique. The individual lines, or ridges, of a fingerprint are the unique part of your print. Where these lines split, end, circle or do anything else identifies you as you! These tiny lines of detail are called “minutiae (min-oo-sha).” The fingerprints taken by the M.E. will be run through a computerized system called IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System) in the hopes of getting an identification of the deceased.

Today, you will practice getting fingerprints from another person, your lab partner. You will also compare two of your prints to find where the minutiae are different, in at least 10 places.

Part 1: Printing the fingers

  1. Obtain a fingerprint paper. Put your name on it.
  2. Obtain an ink pad, one per group.
  3. Using your lab partner’s fingers, gently roll the fingertip from side of the nail to the other side of the nail, being sure to get ink on all of the fingertip surface.
  4. Carefully roll IN ONE DIRECTION, starting on one side of the nail and roll towards to other, the inked finger in the correct box. DO NOT ROLL BACK OVER THE PRINT, this will smear the lines.
  5. Repeat this procedure for every fingertip.
  6. Wash your hands.
  7. Repeat for the other lab partner.

Part 2: Marking the Minutiae

  1. Choose two of your fingerprints to compare.
  2. One the first print, find one ridgeline of the print, and follow it lightly with a pencil. Number this line as #1.
  3. When the line you are following with your pencil changes in any way, circle the change. Perhaps the line splits, or ends, or splits and circles back. There are many things the lines do and this is the unique part of your print. Once you have circled something on the line, you are done with that line and can move on to the next number.
  4. Complete for 10 lines, number each line up to #10.
  5. Repeat on the second print you chose.

Created: 09/12/2013
Updated: 02/05/2018