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