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Medicina Legal de Costa Rica

On-line version ISSN 2215-5287Print version ISSN 1409-0015


FERNANDEZ CHAVES, José Manuel. Perception of the usefulness of dental records as a method of human identification in high-riskprofessions: the case of the Costa Rican firefighters. Med. leg. Costa Rica [online]. 2021, vol.38, n.1, pp.146-156. ISSN 2215-5287.


High-risk professions such as firefighters, rescuers, police, paramedics, and those where there is high exposure to danger during rescues or interventions constitute populations that require adequate antemortem information for identification purposes. The present investigation established the perception of the usefulness of dental records as an identification method and the presence of dental treatments of the Costa Rican Fire Department personnel.

Materials and methods:

A pilot questionnaire was prepared and sent to the General Directorate of Firefighters of Costa Rica where observations were made, later it was calibrated by the statistical expert. Through the Google Docs platform, it was sent via institutional email to the operational personnel of the Costa Rican Fire Department. The results were analyzed through the frequency distributions, crossing of variables, comparison of means based on the analysis of variance. The minimum level of confidence for the comparisons was 95%.


The questionnaire was sent to a total of 2006 firefighters (permanent and voluntary personnel), of which 757 completed the questionnaire. 85% of the participants consider that their profession has a high or very high risk, the best-known identification method is DNA, followed by fingerprints and then dental identification. 66.7% of the participants consider that dentistry is useful as an identification method in firefighters, 58% indicate that they visited the dentist a year ago or less; and 75% in the last two years; no statistically significant difference was found by age group (p = 0.400).


The Costa Rican Fire Department personnel consider that dental records are useful in the identification of human beings and they regularly attend dental appointments that include dental x-rays.

Keywords : Firefighters; identification; dental records; perception; occupational risk.

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