A retrospective analysis of alcohol in medicolegal postmortems over a period of five years
Violence and violent death are everyday events in present-day South Africa. Although this phenomenon may be attributed in great part to the sociopolitical environment, the single most important underlying common factor is the presence of alcohol in both the perpetrators of violence and their victims. We retrospectively studied 948 cases of 2,980 medicolegal autopsies done over a 5-year period. We found that 52.5% of cases tested positively for alcohol, with blood alcohol concentration varying from 0.008 to 0.048 g% (mean = 0.18). Male patients were more common and more likely to be positive than female patients. Breakdown of the cases into various modes of death showed that homicides, vehicular accidents, and suicides predominated. The results are in agreement with earlier studies done locally and elsewhere.