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African Health Sciences

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An erroneous opinion on a cause of death in a forensic autopsy: a case report

Meel Banwari

Abstract


Background: The quality of autopsies is always questioned in courts, especially in developing countries. Wrong decisions or misjudgments are undesirable in medicine, but they are very dangerous in forensic medicine. If a wrong opinion is given, either a culprit can be acquitted or an innocent person can be sentenced. Therefore, an expert opinion is always required before the announcement of a judgment.
Objective: To highlight the problem of accuracy in determining the cause of death in forensic autopsy.
Case history: A 19- year old young adult male (Mr E), who had a history of alcohol abuse, was brought to a hospital casualty department by police, on an allegation of theft. He was unconscious and died within two hours of arrival. A post-mortem report was requested by a private attorney for an expert opinion. A post-mortem examination was conducted and multiple superficial injuries were recorded on his body. Head injury was given as a cause of death. The author seeks to critically analyze the post-mortem findings in relation to the cause and manner of death.
Conclusion: An erroneous opinion was reached regarding cause and manner of death in this autopsy report.

Keywords: Erroneous opinion, forensic autopsy.




http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/ahs.v17i4.36
AJOL African Journals Online