A retrospective review of fatal electrocution cases at Tygerberg Forensic Pathology Services, Cape Town, South Africa, over the 5-year period 1 January 2008 - 31 December 2012
Background. Electrocution as a cause of death has been discussed extensively in the international literature. However, research on this topic in South Africa (SA) is scarce.
Objectives. To address the need for further research in this field and emphasise the necessity for preventive measures by determining the demographic and pathological profile of fatal electrocution cases seen in the Tygerberg Forensic Pathology Services, Western Cape Province, SA.
Methods. The study was a retrospective and descriptive case series of all the cases of death secondary to electrocution referred to the study facility from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2012.
Results. A total of 39 cases were included. Ten victims (25.6%) were aged <13 years. The geographical area most affected by electrocution deaths was the informal settlement Khayelitsha (56.4% of cases). The primary injuries described were mainly burn wounds (34 cases, 87.2%) and abrasions (4 cases, 10.3%). Most injuries were to the upper limbs. Unfortunately, the results pertaining specifically to the pathology of electrical burn wounds were inconclusive.
Conclusions. In view of discrepancies found in the reporting of electrical burn wounds, a standardised system for classifying these wounds is suggested. Although electrocution-related mortality is not a leading cause of death in high-prevalence areas, awareness should be raised.
Copyright remains in the Author’s name. The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial Works License. Authors are required to complete and sign an Author Agreement form that outlines Author and Publisher rights and terms of publication. The Agreement form should be uploaded along with other submissions files and any submission will be considered incomplete without it [forthcoming].
Material submitted for publication in the SAMJ is accepted provided it has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. Please inform the editorial team if the main findings of your paper have been presented at a conference and published in abstract form, to avoid copyright infringement. The SAMJ does not hold itself responsible for statements made by the authors.
Previously published images
If an image/figure has been previously published, permission to reproduce or alter it must be obtained by the authors from the original publisher and the figure legend must give full credit to the original source. This credit should be accompanied by a letter indicating that permission to reproduce the image has been granted to the author/s. This letter should be uploaded as a supplementary file during submission.