[Statistical investigation on cases associated with medical implication in administrative autopsy within the 23 wards of Tokyo: the role of the medical examiner system in investigation of cases associated with medical implication].

Department of Forensic Medicine, National Defence Medical College, Tokorozawa 359-8513, Japan.
Nihon hōigaku zasshi = The Japanese journal of legal medicine 11/2009; 63(2):141-55.
Source: PubMed


Actual circumstances of administrative autopsies which proved connections between medical implication and death had not been very clear in the past. Therefore, using the records of administrative autopsies performed from 2003 to 2005 at Tokyo Medical Examiner's Office, this study looked into the cases in which a certain level of connection between medical implication and death was proved or suspected. This study dealt with 877 cases. The largest age group among the male was the one between 65 and 74, and the number of female cases increased as the age increased. The percentage of the studied cases among all the administrative autopsy cases has become larger after 2004. As regarding medical departments for implication, "internal medicine" had the largest number of the cases, and "unknown", "psychiatry", and "emergency" followed in order. 30 percent were being hospitalized during the final medical consultations, and the percentage went up to just over 60 when the deaths during and on the day after the final consultations were added to the figure. Regarding the causes of death, the great majority was natural death, and the other causes were 'unknown', 'fall', and 'asphyxia'. Also, about 80 percent of the natural deaths were caused by circulatory, gastroenteric and respiratory diseases. Contradictions between clinical and forensic diagnoses were found in approximately 10 percent of the cases. In any case, medical examiners are to diagnose the causes of deaths by autopsy, not to evaluate the quality and safety of medical treatment. But if the quality and safety of medical treatment could be improved through the diagnoses of administrative autopsy, the medical examiner system would function practically as a part of administration for health and welfare. However, as it handles not only deaths by medical treatment but also all the other types of unnatural deaths, the system can also deal with other social problems, for which the correct causes of death must be diagnosed initially. It is socially very unhealthy to focus only on death associated with medical implication, as other types of unnatural death could be seen as relatively less important. Therefore, it is considered that the medical examiner system is effective for investigation of a variety of unnatural death as well as cases associated with medical implication.

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