Development of prevention strategies against bath-related deaths based on epidemiological surveys of inquest records in Kagoshima Prefecture

Sci Rep. 2023 Feb 8;13(1):2277. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-29400-7.


Sudden death in the bathroom (bath-related death) occurs more frequently in Japan than in other countries. To clarify the epidemiological characteristics of bath-related deaths, we reviewed inquest records of deaths in Kagoshima Prefecture from 2006 to 2019. We identified 2689 cases of bath-related death. Of these cases, 90% were among people aged ≥ 65 years. The majority occurred in a home bathtub between 16:00 and 20:00. Most deaths (52.0%) occurred in winter (December-February), and there were extremely strong negative correlations with the environmental temperatures (maximum, minimum, and mean) on the day of death. We identified the environmental temperature during cold winter months that bath-related deaths are likely to occur in Kagoshima, although further investigation concerning the effects of other confounding factors is required. Forensic autopsies have only been performed in 29 cases and the cause of death was not diagnosed correctly in the majority of cases. Although autopsies are essential to elucidate the pathogenesis of the deaths, it is difficult to increase the rate of autopsies under the current Japanese death investigation system. Therefore, we suggest that the best way to prevent bath-related death is establishing an "Alert system" based on our results, and to have people refrain from bathing on dangerous days.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Death, Sudden*
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Temperature