On the handling of German citizens who died abroad : a presentation and evaluation of the procedure in Hamburg

Zum Umgang mit im Ausland verstorbenen deutschen Staatsbürgern : Vorstellung und Bewertung des Verfahrens in Hamburg

  • Background: Decedents who are repatriated to Germany from abroad are not systematically registered nationwide. In Hamburg, in addition to an epidemic hygienic examination, registration and examination of the content of the documents accompanying the corpses of German citizens has been carried out since 2007. In this way, unclear and non-natural deaths in particular are to be followed up as necessary. Material and methods: Protocols of external and internal autopsies of German nationals who died abroad and were repatriated to Hamburg via the port or airport between 2007 and 2018 were retrospectively evaluated with respect to numbers, completeness of the autopsy abroad and correctness of manner and cause of death. Results: Between 2007 and 2018 a total of 703 corpses were repatriated via the port or airport of Hamburg and examined by the Port Medical Service for epidemic hygiene and for anything conspicuous in the documents accompanying the corpse. Of them, 307 corpses were examined at the Institute of Legal Medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. In total, 82.4% of the examined cases had an incorrect, unspecific or incomplete foreign death certificate. Of the deceased, 238 were subjected to a second external autopsy by a forensic pathologist and 69 deceased were autopsied again or for the first time in Hamburg. It was found that 84% of the autopsies performed abroad were not performed according to German and European standards. The most common discrepancy was incomplete preparation of the organs. In almost one quarter of the autopsies performed in Hamburg a different cause of death than abroad was determined at autopsy. Conclusion: Since the quality of autopsies performed abroad sometimes does not meet the standards in Germany and Europe and many papers accompanying corpses are incomplete or incorrectly filled out, a systematic review procedure in the home country is recommended. Through the system established in Hamburg in 2007, at least a re-evaluation of the cases takes place.
Author:Paul Jonathan Witte, Jan-Peter SperhakeGND, Klaus PüschelORCiDGND, Franziska HolzGND, Benjamin OndruschkaORCiDGND, Ann Sophie SchröderGND
Parent Title (English):Rechtsmedizin
Place of publication:Berlin ; Heidelberg
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/07/12
Date of first Publication:2021/07/12
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2022/07/27
Tag:Autopsy; Cause of death; International body passport; Manner of death; Repatriation of corpses
Page Number:6
First Page:125
Last Page:130
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 34 Recht / 340 Recht
6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0