BACKGROUND: 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) has a long half-life of 5-10 years in human beings as a result of its high lipophilicity, and little or no metabolism. We monitored TCDD, its form, distribution, and elimination in Victor Yushchenko after he presented with severe poisoning. METHODS: In late December, 2004, a patient presented with TCDD poisoning; the levels in his blood serum (108000 pg/g lipid weight) were more than 50 000-fold greater than those in the general population. We identified TCDD and its metabolites, and monitored their levels for 3 years using gas chromatography and high-resolution mass spectrometry in samples of blood serum, adipose tissue, faeces, skin, urine, and sweat, after they were extracted and cleaned with different organic solvents. FINDINGS: The amount of unmodified TCDD in the samples that were analysed accounted for about 60% of TCDD eliminated from the body during the same period. Two TCDD metabolites-2,3,7-trichloro-8-hydroxydibenzo-p-dioxin and 1,3,7,8-tetrachloro-2-hydroxydibenzo-p-dioxin-were identified in the faeces, blood serum, and urine. The faeces contained the highest concentration of TCDD metabolites, and were the main route of elimination. Altogether, the different routes of elimination of TCDD and its metabolites accounted for 98% of the loss of the toxin from the body. The half-life of TCDD in our patient was 15.4 months. INTERPRETATION: This case of poisoning with TCDD suggests that the design of methods for routine assessment of TCDD metabolites in human beings should be a main aim of TCDD research in the metabolomic era. FUNDING: University of Geneva Dermatology Fund, and Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology.
Comment In: Lancet. 2009 Oct 3;374(9696):1131-219660808
A second homicide by a released mentally ill person is a potentially avoidable tragedy that can reduce the prospects of conditional release for other mentally ill offenders.
The aim of this study was to compare the clinical and criminological features of single and recidivist homicide offenders with schizophrenia from the Chuvash Republic of the Russian Federation.
Data were extracted from the criminal and clinical records of all people with schizophrenia who had been convicted of a homicide in the Chuvash Republic at any time between 1 January 1981 and 31 December 2010. Those convicted of a second homicide offence during the 30 years of the study were compared with those convicted of a single homicide.
Sixteen (10.7%) of 149 homicide offenders with schizophrenia had committed a previous homicide. The 16 recidivists included nine offenders who were diagnosed with schizophrenia at the time of their first homicide (after January 1981), three who were diagnosed with schizophrenia only after the first homicide and four who had already been diagnosed with schizophrenia at the time of a pre-1981 homicide. Time at risk for recidivists and non-recidivists differed, but the average time back in the community for the non-recidivists just exceeded the average time to second homicide for the recidivists. All the recidivists were men. Living in a rural area and dissocial personality traits were associated with homicide recidivism.
In the Chuvash republic, most of the repeat homicide offences by people with schizophrenia were committed by people residing in rural areas with less access to psychiatric services, which provides indirect evidence for the efficacy of ongoing treatment and supervision in preventing repeat homicides. This area of study is, however, limited by the small numbers of cases and the long follow-up required. International collaborative studies are indicated to provide a more accurate estimate of the rate of recidivist homicide in schizophrenia.
Abortion, particularly later-term abortion, and neonaticide, selective non-treatment of newborns, are feasible management strategies for fetuses or newborns diagnosed with severe abnormalities. However, policy varies considerably among developed nations. This article examines abortion and neonatal policy in four nations: Israel, the US, the UK and Denmark. In Israel, late-term abortion is permitted while non-treatment of newborns is prohibited. In the US, on the other hand, later-term abortion is severely restricted, while treatment to newborns may be withdrawn. Policy in the UK and Denmark bridges some of these gaps with liberal abortion and neonatal policy. Disparate policy within and between nations creates practical and ethical difficulties. Practice diverges from policy as many practitioners find it difficult to adhere to official policy. Ethically, it is difficult to entirely justify perinatal policy in these nations. In each nation, there are elements of ethically sound policy, while other aspects cannot be defended. Ethical policy hinges on two underlying normative issues: the question of fetal/newborn status and the morality of killing and letting die. While each issue has been the subject of extensive debate, there are firm ethical norms that should serve as the basis for coherent and consistent perinatal policy. These include 1) a grant of full moral and legal status to the newborn but only partial moral and legal status to the late-term fetus 2) a general prohibition against feticide unless to save the life of the mother or prevent the birth of a fetus facing certain death or severe pain or suffering and 3) a general endorsement of neonaticide subject to a parent's assessment of the newborn's interest broadly defined to consider physical harm as well as social, psychological and or financial harm to related third parties. Policies in each of the nations surveyed diverging from these norms should be the subject of public discourse and, where possible, legislative reform.
Alcoholism is known to be greatly underdiagnosed in death certificates, a fact that biases in estimates of alcohol-related mortality. An autopsy series of 1658 cases (920 with natural cause of death and 738 nonnatural) was reviewed to evaluate the extent of this bias, and also to see how well different sources of information served as indicators of alcoholism when alcohol-related disease diagnosed at autopsy was considered as a gold standard. A stepwise logistic regression model adjusted by age and sex showed police reports of individual's alcohol usage and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of > 2.9/1000 at autopsy to be the two most significant predictors of chronic alcohol abuse (p 2.9/1000), due to its high specificity, as particularly suggestive of chronic heavy drinking. However, it is wise to use these parameters only as an aid in decision-making, not as sole indicators of alcoholism. Deaths associated with chronic heavy drinking were frequent, 50.5% of the total series (male 56.4%, female 37.1%). For all but one age-group (male 45-64 years), however, death certificates mentioned alcohol-related diseases in less than half of these cases. Especially evident underdiagnosis was found for female and males 65 years and older. These results indicate that alcoholism is frequent in such a highly selected population as a series of forensic autopsies and suggest that estimates of prevalence of alcoholism based only on review of death certificates are to be considered with great caution.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
The phenomenon of patient homicides committed by health service employees has, in the previous years, repeatedly aroused much attention. The cases made known in Germany, the USA, Holland, Norway, and Austria appear to provide evidence to the effect that we are not only dealing with unique incidents. The scientific investigation of this especially sensitive taboo-topic is, to date, missing. The judicial trials carried out emphatically indicate that culprit motives, colleague behavior, but also to a large extent decisions made by superiors remain unclear. It remains controversial, what effect working conditions, strain of employees, their level of education and personal viewpoints over such criminal acts they possess. Finally, the long latency period between the first internal suspicions and the responsible parties' appropriate reactions requires duplicatable explanation. The following paper presents a German single-case study of patient homicide by a female nurse. The focus on causality rests on the presentation of developments up to the point where the long-fermenting suspicion could no longer be dismissed, and appropriate consequences took place. The account largely avoids the "definite" findings required during the judicial process. It concerns rather above all an open, uncertain, and possibly without external influence course of development which in stages each colleague in the health professions can trace, to the point where the uncertain and horrifying suspicion became a certainty. With this single-case study in hand it is made understandable in which ways personal circumstances and professional conditions at the worksituation can intertwine in such a way that the original motivation to help turns into its abysmal opposite. It is the author's intention to make preventive learning possible through this single case study. Every employee in the health professions should proceed on the assumption that such occurrences could also in his own field of work come to pass. In this respect, it is of considerable importance to differentiate between hasty and untenable incriminations and original increasing early-warning signs.
BACKGROUND: Seasonal variation in suicides has been shown in many countries. We assessed the seasonality and the variation with latitude in suicides and homicides, and the impact of alcohol on the seasonality in suicides. METHODS: Official computerized registers on causes of death in all Greenland during 1968-2002 were used. Sales data on beer from one of the major food store chains for July 2005-June 2006 were examined. Seasonal variation was assessed by Rayleigh's test for circular distributions. RESULTS: There were a total of 1351 suicides and 308 homicides. The suicides rate varied from 4.2/100 000 person-years in 1971 to 128.4/100 000 person-years in 1987. The homicide rate varied from 2.1/100000 person-years in 1969-1970 to 34.8/100 000 person-years in 1988. Out of the 1351 suicides, 80.5% were committed by men and 19.5% by women. Median age was 25 years (n = 1351; Range 11-84 years). Violent methods of suicide were used in 95% of all cases (n = 1286). Out of the 308 homicide victims, 61% were men and 39% were women, and 13% were killed in multiple homicide events.There was a significant seasonal variation with peaks in June and troughs in the winter in all suicide cases (n = 1351, r = 0.07; Z = 7.58, p