Korean J Leg Med.  2001 Oct;25(2):20-25.

Comparison between the Presumed and the Most Possible Cause of Death in Unusual Cases: Legal Autopsy performed by The Headquarters of National Institute of Scientific Investigation in 2000

  • 1National Institute of Scientific Investigation, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Forensic Medicine, Catholic University Medical School, Seoul, Korea.


This is a comparative study based on the data of legal autopsies performed at the National Institute of Scientific Investigation, Seoul, during the year of 2000. In South Korea, the pathologists usually do not attend the death scene, and the scene investigation is performed only by the law enforcement agency. The latter collects the information needed for clarifying the cause and manner of death. The authors tried to estimate the efficiency of the death investigation through the discrepancy between the presumed and the most possible cause of death. We presumed the cause of death on the ground of police investigation and external examination by the general physicians, The most possible cause of death means the best diagnosis after autopsy by pathologists, with the consideration of police information. Followings are the summary of the results. The coincidence rate with the most possible death are over 90% in presumed trauma, asphyxia, thermal injuries, electrocution, starvation/neglect, and over 80% in drowning and natural deaths. The rate was low in medical injuries(26.6%) and poisoning(67.2%). 7.3 to 8.2% were natural in presumed blunt trauma, traffic injury and fall down injuries. Among 48 cases of presumed ligature strangulation, 6 were other type of asphyxia or other injuries, and 2 unknown. The coincidence rate was only 30.8% in acute alcohol poisoning. 5.9% of presumed fire death was proved other type of violent injuries. In the field of medical practices, only 6.3% of accused general medical procedures were proved dead due to themselves. But the rate was increased up to 49.0% in presumed surgery/anesthetic deaths. 12.9% were violent death in presumed natural death, and 64.6% were dead due to violent causes in the cases of no presumable cause of death.


cause of death-presumed and possible; comparison; coincidence rate

MeSH Terms

Cause of Death*
Law Enforcement
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