A 20 year retrospective analysis of medicolegal deaths in a tertiary hospital setting in Nigeria

  • WO Akhiwu
  • CC Nwafor
  • AP Igbe


Objective: To determine and classify the various types of medicolegal deaths as seen at University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin City, Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: This is a retrospective study of all the medicolegal deaths seen in the Department of Histopathology, (UBTH, Benin City over a 20 year period (January 1990-December 2009) as recorded in the autopsy registers of the department.
Result: A total of 5035 autopsies were done during the period, 89% of which were coroner cases. Four thousand, four hundred and eighty‑one coroner cases representing 12.5% of all bodies received by the mortuary during the period were studied. The male to female ratio was 1.9:1, with an overall mean age of 38.3 years. The ages ranged from 1 day to 101 years with a peak incidence in the 25-44 years age group. A total of 553 children and 3928 adults were involved. The commonest indication for coroner’s autopsy was sudden unexpected natural deaths (SUNDs) which accounted for 65.5% of the cases. Other causes of death were accidents, homicide, suicide, and undetermined causes representing 28.6, 5.0, 0.5, and 0.4%, respectively. Commonest cause of SUND was cardiovascular diseases with complications of hypertension being the most common CVS disease (26.9%). Road traffic accident was the commonest form of accident causing death (88.7%). Public enlightenment and health education about routine medical screening will help to reduce causes of natural deaths.
Conclusion: This study shows the pattern of medicolegal autopsies in UBTH and this preliminary data will provide a baseline for future research and help in formulating policies to help in reduction of preventable causes of death.

Keywords: Accidental death, homicide, medicolegal death, road traffic accident, sudden unexpected natural death suicide

Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice • Oct-Dec 2013 • Vol 16 • Issue 4

Author Biographies

WO Akhiwu
Department of Pathology, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin‑City
CC Nwafor
Department of Pathology, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin‑City
AP Igbe
Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Nigeria

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1119-3077