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Characteristics of cases of fatal drowning at a tertiary care hospital in Sri Lanka

Authors:

H. T. D. W. Ariyarathna ,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, LK
About H. T. D. W.
Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences
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E. L. P. A. Jayathilaka

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, LK
About E. L. P. A.
Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences
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Abstract

Introduction: Deaths due to drowning largely manifest as preventable accidents or suicides. This study deals with characteristics of cases of fatal drowning presented to a tertiary care hospital in Sri Lanka.

 

Methods: A descriptive study was conducted retrospectively based on postmortem reports of deaths due to drowning available at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital from September 2015 to September 2020. The study reviews characteristics of fatal drowning cases reported to the institution including their epidemiology, features, injury patterns and associated factors.

 

Results: Drowning accounted for 1.35% (n = 65) of total postmortems performed. The male to female ratio was 8:1. Children below 15 years of age contributed to 7.7% of the deaths. Accidental deaths were the commonest followed by suicide and homicide respectively. Evidence of alcohol consumption was noted in 30.8% (n = 20) and the majority of the drownings occurred in the sea. No putrefaction was seen in 58.5% (n = 38) bodies. The characteristic froth was noted in 43.1% (n = 28) of the study sample and there had not been a significant association between the presence of froth with the medium of water. Facial and chest injuries were the commonest associated injuries. Four cases of late death (near drowning) were reported. Twenty-six (40%) deaths could have been prevented.

 

Conclusions: This study helps to emphasize an existing problem in Sri Lanka. The prevention of drowning is mostly an achievable goal in Sri Lanka as long as the risk factors and epidemiology are known along with an adequate emphasis.
How to Cite: Ariyarathna, H.T.D.W. and Jayathilaka, E.L.P.A., 2021. Characteristics of cases of fatal drowning at a tertiary care hospital in Sri Lanka. Galle Medical Journal, 26(3), pp.120–127. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/gmj.v26i3.8103
Published on 15 Sep 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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