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Snake bite: Medico-legal significance

Authors:

S. Raveendran ,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About S.
Postgraduate trainee, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences
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M. Vidanapathirana

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About M.
Professor, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences
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Abstract

Introduction: Most of the snake bite deaths reported were due to delay in giving antivenom or non-availability of species specific antivenom and the relatives of deceased allege against doctors that proper care is not given. Forensic pathologist is expected not only to give cause of death but also give opinions about potential negligence in such cases.

 

Case report: A middle aged woman died while being transported from a local hospital to a tertiary care hospital following a snake bite. She was brought to the hospital with symptoms suggestive of neurotoxin poisoning and anti-snake venom was given at the local hospital. The patient developed shortness of breath and she was transferred to a tertiary-care hospital for further ventilator support, but the patient was pronounced dead on the way after 2 hours of the bite. Bite mark with two fangs was found on left upper part of the breast. Inflammatory signs were found around the bite mark with necrosis and blister formation. Autopsy revealed no hematological manifestations.

 

Conclusions: The COD was envenomation of neurotoxin due to cobra bite. The allegation of medical negligence may be challenged, because death could occur rapidly within 30 minutes to two hours in cobra bites and delay in transport may also have played a vital role especially being a rural area. Role of non-availability of species specific antivenom and efficacy of common anti snake venom should be further studied before giving opinions regarding potential negligence.
How to Cite: Raveendran, S. & Vidanapathirana, M., (2016). Snake bite: Medico-legal significance. Medico-Legal Journal of Sri Lanka. 4(1), pp.25–28. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/mljsl.v4i1.7333
Published on 28 Dec 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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