Recommended Reading

Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
Hanging is a common method of suicide and multiple autopsy findings can be observed at the postmortem examination. Simon’s sign is a haemorrhage into the anterior aspect of the intervertebral discs of the lumbar region that can be observed in hangings and other traumatic causes of death. This finding is considered evidence of vitality. Several mechanisms have been proposed regarding bleeding development. In this paper, we present a case of hanging in which Simon’s sign was observed at the autopsy. A review of the literature regarding Simon’s bleeding has been performed, and a discussion of the potential mechanism is reported. Although Simon’s sign may be observed in hangings, a careful evaluation of all the available data, including investigation, autopsy findings, and toxicology, is mandatory to avoid misinterpretation of death’s cause and manner.

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Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
The requirements for informed consent were modified in 2015 following the UK Supreme Court judgment of Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board. This marked a decisive shift from the traditional paternalistic ‘doctor knows best’ model towards a more patient-centred approach. This study examines the current standard of consent for septoplasty and whether it complies with the law. We also report whether the ‘reasonable patient’ and surgeon agree about which risks should be discussed during the consent process. Ten complications were identified as common or serious via a literature search. Using questionnaires, 21 Ears, Nose and Throat surgeons were asked which of these they routinely discussed, and 103 patients were asked how seriously they regarded those complications. Results were compared using the Test of Proportions. Most surgeons routinely discuss all risks except negative change in sense of smell and numbness of upper incisors. The ‘reasonable patient’ regarded these two complications as serious or very serious. However, less than 70% of surgeons mentioned them. A significant proportion of Ears, Nose and Throat surgeons do not routinely mention all the risks that the ‘reasonable patient’ would want to know about before undergoing a septoplasty. This may result in more clinical negligence claims, as managing a patient’s reasonable expectations is an important factor.

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Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
Palliative care, namely the relief of pain, is a priority for cases of incurable diseases in Nepal. However, since oral morphine is not available, pain control is often inadequate. Euthanasia is not permissible by law but could be a better solution in some cases and should be made understandable to patients and physicians as in developed countries. Should euthanasia be legal? If cheap and effective palliative care were easily accessible, most terminally ill Nepalese would avoid pressure to practise euthanasia because it is a cheaper option.

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Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
Individuals with intellectual disability are often uncooperative for complete dental evaluation and treatment. Many of these patients fall within autistic spectrum disease. These patients are also said to be associated with other medically relevant disorders such as seizures, and metabolic and hormonal dysfunction. Undertaking treatment of such patients under general anaesthesia will require complete medical evaluation. As many of the antiepileptic drugs interact with anaesthetic agents, a sound knowledge of drugs taken by the patient is necessary. However, when the patient is under alternative therapy, this problem becomes multi-fold. This paper will discuss the basic, but real problems with the gap of understanding between allopathic and alternative therapy, the importance of reviewing the patients’, previous medical records, and its medico-legal consequences. It will also raise the issue of delays in management with increased cost and time of hospitalisation in such patients.

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Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
The use of helium in plastic bag suffocation is a suicide method recently found in forensic cases. Although it is not common practice, there has been a strong increase in its use during the past 20 years, thanks to the accessibility of information on the web and materials needed to implement it. From a pathophysiological point of view, there are various theories on how helium can change the timing and, also, the cause of death when the head is inside a plastic bag. We report two cases where we believe that the action of helium, whose unequivocal use is demonstrated by the circumstantial data, has unfolded in a different way. In the first case, the discovery of an intense cyanosis of the face, blood leakage from the respiratory orifices and the destruction of numerous alveolar septa with histologically demonstrated blood extravasation, was left for a longer agonic period and a no negligible rate of pulmonary barotrauma in determination of death. In the second case, the total absence of external pathological phenomena, internal and histological, allows us to hypothesise an onset of death that is faster and catalysed by helium and explained by the known sympathetic hyperactivation and consequent cardiac arrhythmic death described in similar plastic bag suffocation cases.

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Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
BackgroundThe common methods of suicide are hanging and poisoning. Suicidal electrocution using a homemade device is very rare. Victims usually possess knowledge of electrical circuits. Here, we report two cases of suicide by electrocution using a homemade device.Case presentation: Case 1: A retired electrical technician was found unresponsive in his bedroom, with two bare copper wires; one encircling the index finger of the left hand, and the other placed in the mouth. The other ends of the wires were connected to a wall plug supplying 220 V current. Forensic autopsy and microscopic findings attributed death to suicidal electrocution.Case 2: A 51-year-old-man was found dead in the bathroom with bare copper wires encircling both wrists and connected to a wall plug carrying 220 V current. Death scene investigation, necropsy, histological tests and toxicological screening indicated suicide by electrocution.

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