Determination of the Incidence of Medicolegal Death in a Tertiary Health Institution in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, South-East, Nigeria

  •  Felix O. Edegbe    
  •  Chukwuma J. Uzoigwe    
  •  Kenneth C. Ekwedigwe    
  •  Chukwudi O. Okani    
  •  Uzoma M. Agwu    
  •  Johnbosco Nwafor    
  •  Paul I. Ekwedigwe    


BACKGROUND: Death is an inevitable end that comes when not expected. However, when death occurs as a result of violence or unclear and suspicious manner, a coroner inquest is instituted to determine the cause, manner and the mechanism of death.

AIM: To determine the incidence and causes of medicolegal death in Ebonyi State.

MATERIALS & METHOD: This is a 5-year retrospective study of medicolegal autopsies reports of subjects whose cause of death were subject of litigation. The study analysed data between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2017, at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Ebonyi, Southeast, Nigeria. Data analysis was with the SPSS version 20.

RESULTS: During the study period. A total number of 202 autopsies were performed. The age range of the deceased was from 2 years to 90 years, with a mean age of 35.2 ± 16.1. The predominant age group was 30 - 39 years (30.2%) while the least (0.5%) were between the age of 90 and 99 years. Males accounted for 158 (78.2%), and females were 44 (21.8%). Farmers (31.2%) and students (15.3%) were mostly affected by unnatural death in this study. Accidental deaths constituted 54.5% of cases, followed by homicidal death (36.6%). Impalement by sharp objects (41.9%) was a significant cause of death due to homicide in this study. In contrast, accidental deaths were mainly as a result of a road traffic accident (95.5%). The majority (60.4%) of those who died as a result of an accident sustained an injury at multiple body sites.

CONCLUSION: Road traffic accident and homicide were responsible for the majority of cause of death found in medicolegal autopsies in Ebonyi State. Proper road maintenance, safe driving culture, and making people adhere strictly to the rule of law are necessary to reduce the incidence of avoidable deaths in our environment.

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