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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 58-62

Evaluating the opinion of the pathologist in coroners' autopsies

1 Department of Morbid Anatomy and Forensic Medicine, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
2 Department of Morbid Anatomy and Histopathology, LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria
3 Department of Anatomic Pathology, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. A O Komolafe
Department of Morbid Anatomy and Forensic Medicine, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile-Ife, Osun State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njhs.njhs_2_20

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Introduction: The practice of forensic medicine essentially integrates medical knowledge, autopsy pathology and the principles of medical law to address the concerns of the law courts with regard to the medicolegal investigation of deaths in coroner's cases. The coroner's autopsy is a derivative of legal practice, and the pathologist should defer to meet the needs of the requesting legal authorities. Materials and Methods: The study was a retrospective review of the medicolegal reports of cases seen in the jurisdiction of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Conplex, Ile-Ife over a period of 11 years. The reports were analysed for the vital components of the coroners' autopsy cases that ultimately determine the opinion which is the summary and conclusion of the cases. Such components include the proximate, intermediate and immediate causes of death, circumstances of death and pathophysiological mechanisms resulting in death. The appropriateness of the opinion of death with regard to the manner of death was also assessed based on the medicolegal certainty. Results: In all, 102 cases were analysed, within the age range of 5–85 years, including 75 males and 27 females giving a male-to-female ratio of 2.8:1. There were 10 cases (9.8%) classifiable as deaths from natural diseases, 49 cases (48%) from accidents, including 48 cases of road traffic accident and one from aircraft crash, 30 cases (29.4%) of homicides, 1 (0.98%) case of suicide 1 (0.98%) case of electrocution and 11 (10.8%) cases of misadventure and indeterminate categories. Conclusions: The role of the forensic pathology is crucial in guiding the law courts in determining the outcome of medicolegal cases. The pathologist is therefore obligated to exercise due diligence at all the stages of the autopsy to answer the relevant questions that will enable the court to give appropriate verdict, devoid of miscarriage of justice.

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