The aim of this study was to collect all available data from 2009 to 2016 focusing on the epidemiological, clinical and pharmacological issues only related to acute intoxication fatalities in the Unit of Legal Medicine of the Department of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Parma. All death certificates and autopsy reports were retrieved from the archives and evaluated to identify cases in which only acute intoxication from xenobiotics could be defined as the cause of death, however statistical and descriptive analyses were applied to all the data. A more comprehensive analysis on all causes of death showed that out of 1005 total cases the most common is haemorrhagic shock/traumatic shock (36.5%), followed by cardiogenic shock with 27.4%; asphyxia ranks as the third cause of death (11.8%); concerning encephalic injuries, our data show 10.9% of cases, while acute intoxication by xenobiotics accounts for 5.7%. Data show that the majority of subjects are poly-abuser (75.4%); people not enrolled within a preventive treatment (59.4%) were more likely to commit suicide (28.1%), whereas only 6.2% in the sub-population in treatment (40.6%) committed suicide: therefore, data strongly suggest the evidence that joining a preventive programme can decrease the probability of extreme action. Access to a full case history may indeed save considerable time and expense in carrying out tests, but also valuable targeted samplings. The investigating officer should, therefore, submit as much information as possible about the case, as this may influence the type and extent of analysis undertaken, as well as the interpretation of analytical results.
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