The Pattern and Frequency of Drowning Autopsies in Benin City, Nigeria.
Introduction: Drowning is a form of violent asphyxia death, where in the entry of air into the lungs, is prevented by water or other fluids due to the submersion of mouth and nostril (complex submersion of whole body is not necessary).
Aim and objective: To determine profile/patterns of all drowning autopsies in our environment.
Materials and method: This prospective study was conducted at the Police clinic Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2013. Detailed and complete postmortem examination was done on all the bodies. Demographic data like age, sex and other variables like site of drowning, activity before drowning, manner of death and autopsy findings were collated and analyzed.
Results: Among 1,022 medicolegal autopsies done during the period, 22 cases of drowning were seen giving a rate of 2.2%. The youngest victim was a year old male, while the oldest victim was a 45 year old male with a mean age of 20.68 years and a standard deviation of ±10.64. Thirteen males and 9 females were involved giving a male to female ratio of 1.4:1. Majority of the victims (45.5%) were in age group 20-29 years. Age group 40-49 years accounted for the least number of drowning cases (4.5%). Majority (31.8%) were recovered from wells, while those recovered from the rivers accounted for 27.3%. Accidental drowning was the most common manner/circumstance of death and accounted for 81.8% of deaths. Atypical type of drowning deaths was seen in 63.6% of cases.
Conclusion: Deaths by drowning are highly preventable, measures like creating barriers in proximity to wells, supervision of children, water safety education and provision of personal protective floatation devices are important and will go a long way to prevent or further reduce these avoidable deaths.