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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 23-31

Autopsy study of accidental mortality in rivers state, Nigeria

Anatomical Pathology Department, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
C C Obiorah
Anatomical Pathology Department, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Background: Accidents constitute serious healthcare burden and public health challenge globally. In Nigeria, it is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality. This work describes the common forms, patterns, causes and demographic distribution of accident related mortality in Rivers state and proffers preventive and mitigation measures. Methods: A review of coroner autopsy findings of accident victims between 1998 and 2008 was retrospectively undertaken. Information on age, gender, circumstances, mechanisms, and causes of death were obtained and analyzed. Results: Accidental deaths constituted 35.8% of 2087 reviewed medicolegal autopsies. Males constituted 76.9%. The commonest circumstances of accidental deaths were road traffic accidents (RTA) with 63.5% while other forms of accidents in descending order of occurrence were plane crash, drowning, electrocution, fire explosions, falls, and building collapse. The mean age of victims was 30.8 ± 14.5 years while the peak age was 20-29 years. Children and adolescents constituted 20.6% of the cases while adults aged between 20 and 59 constituted 73.9%. The commonest vehicle types involved in RTA were commercial buses with 44.7% and 91.6% of the victims were vehicular occupants. Head and neck injuries dominated in the victims with 58.6%. Unsafe motorists' behaviour especially non compliance with wearing of seat belt by drivers and passengers predisposed to majority of the deaths. Conclusion: Improvement in our road infrastructure and provision of critical care facilities and trained personnel in the accident and emergency units of our hospitals will reduce preventable deaths from accidents. Provision of toxicological diagnostic infrastructure will obviate the missed opportunities in poisoning and medical errors uncommonly recorded in Nigerian studies.

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