A 9 months-old infant has died of scald burn by the hot water from the fallen electric pot at home. Postmortem computed tomography (CT) scanning prior to autopsy contributed to exclude the possibilities of old and new bone fractures or hidden massive hemorrhages. This procedure helped the pathologists to avoid dissecting all the extremities, which is time-consuming, laborious and often hurtful to the innocent parents of the deceased. On the other hand it did not successfully show the distribution of the scald burn injury on the skin, which reminded us of the importance of external examination even when the whole-body CT is performed. The manner of death was considered to be accident since the cause of death was burn shock and there was no significant evidence suggesting child abuse. Scene investigation and reproductive experiment have revealed that there was a structural problem in the lid of the pot, which comes off very easily in a certain condition. In order to prevent a similar accident, report of the case to the manufacturer is essential for the improvement of the apparatus. This case, however, has been remained to be unreported because of the confidentiality of the investigative information in judicial autopsy. Finally, we recommend a partial revision of the reporting system in Japan to prevent the recurrence of such tragic accidents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Issues, ethics and legal aspects