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Type: Journal article
Title: Forensic issues in cases of Diogenes syndrome
Author: Byard, R.
Tsokos, M.
Citation: American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 2007; 28(2):177-181
Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Issue Date: 2007
ISSN: 0195-7910
Abstract: Diogenes syndrome is a syndrome described in the clinical literature in elderly individuals characterized by social isolation and extreme squalor. A number of typical features are found in the forensic evaluation of these deaths as the cases usually initiate medicolegal investigations due to the circumstances and the lack of recorded medical histories. Examinations of the death scenes are often difficult as victim's houses are in a state of disrepair, with filth and clutter, and pet dogs may resent the intrusion of strangers. Bodies are often filthy, with parasitic infestations, and are often putrefied due to the social isolation of the deceased and the delay in the finding of the corpse. Bodies may be traumatized from postmortem animal depredation by rodents or pets (eg, cats, dogs), and injuries such as bruises and lacerations may be present from falls associated with terminal illnesses or alcoholism. Blood or putrefactive fluids may be spread throughout the house by pets. Treatable medical conditions are often present in advanced stages, and features of hypothermia may be found. Attending police may suspect robbery due to disarray of the house and homicide due to apparent “bleeding” around the body from purging of putrefactive fluids, injuries from falls, or postmortem animal activity and “blood stains” throughout the house from antemortem injuries and/or fluid spread by animals. Finally, the identification of the deceased may be compromised by decay and/or postmortem animal activity. Thus, in addition to having typical clinical manifestations, such individuals appear to form a distinct subset of forensic cases having characteristic death scene and autopsy features and presenting particular difficulties in postmortem evaluations.
Keywords: Animals
Animals, Domestic
Activities of Daily Living
Feeding Behavior
Social Isolation
Life Style
Mental Disorders
Forensic Medicine
Aged, 80 and over
Middle Aged
DOI: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31805f67e5
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 6
Pathology publications

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