Pulmonary embolism: A case of sudden unexpected death in a psychiatric hospital

Masaki Q. Fujita, Bao Li Zhu, Li Quan, Kaori Ishida, Shigeki Oritani, Histoshi Maeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We report a case of suspected fatal physical abuse in which the cause of death was proved to be pulmonary embolism. A patient with mental retardation presenting aggressive behavior was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and was treated with major tranquilizers. She suddenly died subsequent to an angina-like attack. For several days before her death, she had been confined to her bed because of very low physical and mental activity. Bruises and abrasions were observed on the extremities, suggesting the recent restraints. There was no positive evidence of physical abuse. At autopsy, the cause of death was elucidated to be pulmonary embolism originating from thrombi in the left popliteal vein. This case indicates the risk of pulmonary embolism in immobilized patients in psychiatric hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-179
Number of pages4
JournalLegal Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Forensic pathology
  • Psychiatric disease
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Sudden death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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