Korean J Leg Med.  2002 May;26(1):17-26.

Forensic Review of Underwater Diving-Related Death

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Forensic Medicine, National Institute of Scientific Investigation. Western District Office, Korea. ysk007@nisi.go.kr

Abstract

The popularity of SCUBA diving as aquatic sports is increasing in trend and therefore the risk of diving-related accidents or death is also increased. In underwater environment, with its rapidly changing ambient pressures, human body is subjected to pathophysiologic challenges. The common forms of medical problem with diving are barotrauma, decompression sickness and nitrogen narcosis, and the most common cause of diving-related death is drowning. However, the determination of the cause of death associated with diving should not be derived from the autopsy alone but must result from interpretation of data including a detailed history of the events prior to death, information about accident locus, diving suits, breathing apparatus and their accessories, and complete autopsy including toxicology and histological examination. And to explain the mechanism of death, the forensic pathologists should understand the diving physiology, law of gas physics and other diving hazards, and also be approached by the team effort involved by professional diver. Through the review of cases of SCUBA diving-related death and the literature, the author discuss the investigative approach to diving accidents and complete autopsy procedure with toxicological screen.

Keyword

SCUBA; Diving; Decompression sickness; Barotrauma; Autopsy
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