Document Detail

The post mortem external examination: determination of the cause and manner of death.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20830284     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: The post mortem external examination is the final service that a physician can render to a patient. Its purpose is not just to establish medical diagnoses, but to provide facts in the service of the judicial process and the public interest. Its main tasks are the definitive ascertainment of death, determination of the cause of death and assessment of the manner of death.
METHODS: Selective search and review of relevant literature on cause-of-death statistics, judicial principles, and the performance of the post mortem examination, with emphasis on determination of the cause and manner of death.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: An important duty of the physician performing the post mortem external examination is to know the patient's history. Thus, in principle, the treating physician is the most suitable person to perform the post mortem examination. In most cases of death (perhaps 60% to 70%), the treating physician will be able to give reliable information on the patient's underlying illnesses and the cause of death, based on the patient's history and circumstances at the time of death. Problems arise when death is unexpected and the post mortem external examination alone does not suffice to establish the cause of death. If the cause of death cannot be determined, this fact should be documented, and the manner of death should likewise be documented as undetermined. The autopsy rate in Germany is less than 5% of all deaths, which is very low.
Burkhard Madea; Markus Rothschild
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2010-08-20
Journal Detail:
Title:  Deutsches Ärzteblatt international     Volume:  107     ISSN:  1866-0452     ISO Abbreviation:  Dtsch Arztebl Int     Publication Date:  2010 Aug 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-09-10     Completed Date:  2011-01-25     Revised Date:  2013-05-28    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101475967     Medline TA:  Dtsch Arztebl Int     Country:  Germany    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  575-86; quiz 587-8     Citation Subset:  IM    
Institut für Rechtsmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Bonn, Germany.
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MeSH Terms
Autopsy / legislation & jurisprudence*,  methods*
Cause of Death*
Coroners and Medical Examiners / legislation & jurisprudence*
Forensic Medicine / legislation & jurisprudence*,  methods*
Physical Examination / methods*
Comment In:
Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2011 Feb;108(6):97; author reply 97-8   [PMID:  21373283 ]
Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2011 Feb;108(6):97; author reply 97-8   [PMID:  21373282 ]
Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2011 Feb;108(6):96; author reply 97-8   [PMID:  21373281 ]
Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2011 Feb;108(6):96; author reply 97-8   [PMID:  21373280 ]

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