The significance of medicolegal autopsy in determining mode and cause of death

Forensic Sci Int. Jul-Aug 1979;14(1):23-40. doi: 10.1016/0379-0738(79)90152-x.

Abstract

A comparative examination has been made to evaluate decisions as to causes and modes of death among 436 consecutive medicolegal deaths before and after coming to autopsy. All available information was used. including police reports, in evaluating mode and cause of death prior to the autopsy. Among the women, the mode of death evaluation differed in 23.4% of the cases and the cause of death evaluation differed in 77.5% of the cases. Among the men, the mode of death evaluation differed in 23.4% of the cases and the cause of death evaluation differed in 46.9% of the cases. These figures were achieved, however, on the basis of the fact that in most cases the mode of death and cause of death were reported as unknown. After autopsy, the cause of death remained unknown in 3.3% of the females over the age of 2 years and in 4.2% of the male over the age of 2 years. No characteristic relationship was established between the differences found and the age groups. The investigation shows the importance of the medicolegal autopsy for correctly recording cases where the death is obscure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autopsy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Forensic Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Suicide