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Death Due to Fatal Accidental Electrocution: A case report


Death Due to Fatal Accidental Electrocution: A case report

A. G. Pathak1*, N. A. Devraj2, K. M. Chaudhari3, R. K. Gadhari4
1 2,3,4
Associate Professor & Head, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Forensic Medicine, SBH Medical College & General (civil)
Hospital Dhule, Maharashtra.

BACKGROUND: Electrocution is an uncommon cause of death and occurs commonly due to accident. Deaths
caused by the passage of electric current, irrespective of the source of such current are described as electrocution.
The severity caused due to electrocution could extend from simple to severe shock leading to death of a person. Most
of the victims of high- tension electrocution die at the scene or declared dead before treatment. In first case report,
deceased having fatal electric shock brought to casualty & declared dead.In second case report, deceased fell down
from height due to electric shock &resulting in head injury.

Keywords: electrocution, high voltage electrocution, charring, wound of entry and exit.

INTRODUCTION mortality rate. In this case report we are

Deaths caused by the passage of electric presenting two cases of death due to fatal
current, irrespective of the source of such electrocution which highlights some of the
current are described as electrocution1. typical features of electrocution due to
Electrocution is an uncommon cause of high voltage such as massive destruction
death and occurs commonly due to of soft tissue along with exposure of
accident2 underlying bone.
Electricity has astonishingly very good Case Report no 1:
importance in humans life. One cannot A 14yrs old boy was brought to casualty
believe to live without electricity. But we with history of electric shock while
as human being should not overlook the playing cricket. He was declared dead at
pros&cons of electricity in our life. The casualty before treatment and dead body
endangerment of electricity varies from was sent for post-mortem examination.
simple harmless shock to severe muscle After receiving accidental death report
contraction, unconsciousness and death. from investigating agency and history
Sometimes the victims may be thrown to obtained from relatives and eye witnesses,
ground causing more fatal injuries. The it was prima facie concluded by us that it
first electrical fatality was recorded in was a case of death due to electrocution.
France in 1879 when a stage carpenter was The deceased was playing cricket in the
killed by an alternating current (AC) of vicinity of two high tension electric wires.
250 volts3. While playing, the ball got entangled on
In India voltage supply for domestic use the top portion of a truck. The deceased
electricity is around 220 to 240volts. climbed up the truck to remove the ball. At
Electrocution results when a person that time, there occurred physical contact
exposed to fatal amount of electricity and with high voltage wires and he got
it involves both high voltage (> 600 to 750 electrocuted.
V) and low voltage (<600V) currents4. On external post-mortem examination, we
Injuries from high voltage electrocution noticed the clothes were burnt, at the site
pose a serious threat to life, increasing the of electrical injuries. Singing of scalp
hairs, eyebrows, eyelashes were present.
*Corresponding author Multiple wounds of electrocution were
Dr. Nilesh A. Devraj present over the dead body as follows. 1)
Plot No 1, Gutt No 5/1, Wound of electrocution over face at the
Samarth Nagar, Pimprala Shivar, level of lower jaw and extending back-
Jalgaon, Maharashtra. 425002. words covering the right lateral neck
Email: region and reaching up to lower border of
No: +919833125415 right scapula. It was bone deep. Gross

133 Int J Res Med. 2015; 4(1);133-136 e ISSN:2320-2742 p ISSN: 2320-2734

Death Due to Fatal Accidental Electrocution: A case report
charring, blackening, smell of burning and Underlying occipital bone was fractured
destruction of soft tissues at the site of jaw (injury due to fall from height). 3)
with exposure of periostium of underlying Lacerated wound present over right elbow
mandibular bone & teeth with loosening of postero-laterally with fracture of radius-
tooth from socket was seen. Signs of vital ulna & lower end of humerus (injury due
reaction were present. 2) Wound of to fall from height).
electrocution was present over left forearm On internal post-mortem examination,
on dorso-lateral side extending from lower under scalp hematoma was present over
1/3 up to index finger of left hand, it was left fronto- parieto- temporal region with
bone deep and underlying bones were subdural hematoma over left cerebral
intact. Signs of vital reaction were present. hemisphere at parieto-temporal region.
3) Wound of electrocution was present Subarachnoid hemorrhage was noted all
over left thigh at medial border extending over the brain surface. 3rd, 4th, 5thribs were
up to scrotum and penis, pubic hairs were fractured on right side with multiple
singed and both testis exposed to exterior. lacerations to right lung. Multiple
Signs of vital reactions were present. contusions were present left lung. Thoracic
On internal post-mortem examination cavity contained 500ml of blood & blood
organs, hyoid bone, thyroid cartilage, clots. Petechial hemorrhagic spots were
trachea were intact. Petechial hemorrhagic seen on anterior aspect of heart. Other
spots were seen on anterior aspect of heart, internal organs were intact & stomach was
over both pleurae & meninges. Brain & empty. So based upon history of the case
lungs were edematous and congested. & post-mortem findings, we gave our
Stomach was empty. So based upon opinion as to the cause of death as death
history of the case & post-mortem due to intracranial hemorrhage due to head
findings, we gave our opinion as to the injury following electrocution
cause of death as death due to DISCUSSION
electrocution Diagram: 1 Distribution of electricity
Case Report no 2: (reference no4)
42yr old male was brought in dead
condition to the casualty with a history of
fall from the electric pole to the ground.
The deceased was a wireman by
occupation and was working on a high
voltage electric pole for maintenance
work. Suddenly his head got into contact Photograph of Case report 1: 1showing
with electric wires; he got electrocuted and typical burn injury due to fatal
fell on the ground. Dead body was sent electrocution
for post-mortem examination. On external
post-mortem examination, we noticed the
clothes were intact having blood stains
over shirt. Singings of scalp hairs were
present. Two injuries were present over the
dead body as follows: 1) wound of
electrocution (burn area of size 5cm x
3cm, with crater formation at the site of
Photograph of Case report 1: Showing
contact) present over right side of scalp at
burn injury extending up to scapula
the level of parietal region, situated 2cm
lateral to midline; it was extending from
right parietal region to frontal region with
irregular margins and it was bone deep.
Underlying bone was fractured. Signs of
vital reaction were present. 2) Lacerated
wound was present over occipital region of
scalp obliquely placed, and was bone deep.
134 Int J Res Med. 2015; 4(1);133-136 e ISSN:2320-2742 p ISSN: 2320-2734
Death Due to Fatal Accidental Electrocution: A case report
Photograph of Case report 1: Showing as seen in this case. The electrostatic
burn injury involving genitals & medial forces are responsible for the gross
aspect left thigh mechanical effects on the body and its
clothing which occur in high voltage
In case report no 1, entry & exit wound of
electrocution is difficult to appreciate due
to multiple fatal burn wounds, charring at
the site of tissue & gross damage as
Photograph of Case report 2: Shows extremely high voltage current causes
black charring of skin over scalp as gross destruction & charring of soft tissues
entry point of electrocution along with exposure of underlying bone.
Our finding is consistent with author11who
mentioned that in case of high voltage
electrocution there may be extensive
burning or even charring of the body. In
case report no 2. We could appreciate
wound of entry of electrocution but wound
The laws of physics demand that circuit be of exit was not present & associated
completed for a flow of electrons to occur. external & internal injuries due to fall from
It is this flow of electrons that constitutes height following electrocution were noted.
electric current. The quantum of electrons Electrocution continues to be responsible
constitutes the amperage, whereas the for a significant number of deaths in adult
force or potential difference between the population. Deaths are often are
two ends of circuit constitutes the voltage. accidental, associated with work place
The effects upon a body depend on both injury7. Almost all Indian workers were
the amperage as well as the voltage of forced to work in the most dangerous jobs
electric current .The amount of current without effective safety measures. Many
that will flow through or over the body workers are unaware of the potential
may be determined by the formula A= V electrical hazards present in their work
R, where A is current in amperes, V is environment, which makes them more
potential difference in volts and R is the vulnerable to the dangers of electrocution.
resistance of the body in ohms. The flow Thus, it seems that the high rate of work
of current through the body is great, if the related electrocution mortality in our
voltage is high (more than 1000volts) or if country can be due to low safety training
the resistance is low5. for workers and their employers 12. Incase
Most fatalities occur with the domestic of death due to electrocution unfortunately
voltage between 110 & 380 volts, which is in most of the cases there are no patho-
the voltage range of houses & industrial gnomic features, so determination of the
electricity. The transmission (over cause of death relies heavily on the
13800volt) & distribution (fewer than circumstances of death and the findings of
13800volt) lines typically carry the high typical electric burn at autopsy 11. The
voltages6. Most of deaths in fatal most appropriate steps to take in
electrocutions isasystole, ventricular minimizing the chances of childhood
fibrillation or respiratory arrest secondary electrical injuries and fatalities are to keep
to tetanic contraction of respiratory electric appliances in child proof cabinets,
muscles or damage to central respiratory particularly in the bathroom where there is
control 7& 8
. Most of the victims of high- access to water. Most of the electrocution
tension electrocution die at the scene or deaths are preventable in nature and they
declared dead before treatment and not all can be prevented by implementing proper
the cases show typical entrance & exit education programs to the society
wounds , which is similar with this case. including the electricity board workers
Charring of the skin is frequently present 9& with regards to the usage of safety
appliances and insulators.
135 Int J Res Med. 2015; 4(1);133-136 e ISSN:2320-2742 p ISSN: 2320-2734
Death Due to Fatal Accidental Electrocution: A case report
Conflict of interest: Nil. with emphasis on human factors. J.
Source of funding: Nil. Forensic Sci. 1992; 37: 1016- 22.
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