Escoffery, Carlos T.; Shirley, Suzanne E.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Pathology
Traumatic deaths in Jamaica: A coroner's (medico-legal) autopsy study from the University Hospital of the West Indies
Medicine, Science and the Law
Date of Publication
This study reviewed the trauma-related deaths in a coroner's (medico-legal) autopsy series at the University Hospital of the West Indies and represents only the second such study reported from Jamaica. The autopsy protocols of all coroner's autopsies performed during the 15 -year period January 1, 1983 to December 31, 1997 were reviewed retrospectively, and the clinico-pathological characteristics of trauma-related deaths were analysed. Trauma accounted for 470 (28.7%) of the 1,640 coroner's autopsies and the causes of death in descending order of frequency were motor vehicle accidents [MVAs] (44.9%), blunt injuries (17.7%), burns (16.8%), firearm injuries (13.6%) and stab injuries (7.0%). The 21-30 age group was the most commonly affected and the overall male: female ratio was 4:1. The distribution of injuries (excluding burns) by anatomical region was head and neck (43.8%), chest (8.9%), abdomen and pelvis (4.3%), extremities (0.9%) and multiple sites (25.3%). Forty-nine (23.2%) of the victims of MVAs were documented to have been pedestrians. Blunt trauma was most commonly due to accidental falls followed by assaults. Flame burns accounted for 90% of burn cases. There were seven (1.5%) cases of suicide overall. In this series the majority of trauma-related deaths occurred in young males and were due to MVAs. Strategies aimed at reducing trauma-related mortality should therefore emphasize road traffic safety programmes, particularly targeting the young.....