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Title: Environmental Deaths in the Northern Territory of Australia, 2003-2018.
Authors: Tiemensma, Marianne
Affiliation: Forensic Pathology Unit, Royal Darwin Hospital, Tiwi, Australia; College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, Australia. Electronic address:
Issue Date: 26-Apr-2019
Citation: Wilderness & environmental medicine 2019-04-26
Abstract: The Northern Territory is sparsely populated with a distinctive climate, geography, and wildlife compared with other states and territories in Australia. Environmental deaths (including drowning, heat-related deaths or environmental exposure, fatal animal attacks or envenomation, and lightning deaths) are reportable to the Northern Territory coroner for further investigation. Databases of the Northern Territory coroner's office and the Royal Darwin Hospital Forensic Pathology Unit were searched to identify all environmental deaths over a 15-y period (July 1, 2003-June 30, 2018). A total of 4535 cases were reported to the Northern Territory coroner's office during the studied period, of which 167 (4%) were environmental deaths. Drowning was the most common type of environmental death, followed by heat-related deaths and fatal crocodile attacks. Deaths resulting from lightning and animals other than crocodiles are rare. Local resident, male victims in rural locations were the most commonly affected. Alcohol intoxication played a role in about one-third of cases, and in approximately one-third of cases a known underlying medical condition was identified. The Northern Territory has a challenging environment that is hot, humid, remote, and isolated. Circumstantial information and thorough police investigations are essential in the medicolegal investigation of environmental deaths.
DOI: 10.1016/j.wem.2019.03.002
Type: Journal Article
Subjects: animal attack
crocodile attack
forensic pathology
heat-related death
Appears in Collections:NT Health digital library

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