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Accidental death, Autopsy, Forensic pathology, Hand sanitizer poisoning.
Hand sanitizer is a liquid containing either ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. During the COVID-19 pandemic, due to an unprecedented lockdown, and non-availability of consumable alcohol, some alcohol-addicted people started consuming hand sanitizer, which was easily available to the common masses. Here we present six accidental deaths brought for autopsy, with a history of acute over-consumption of hand sanitizer. All cases had a history of chronic alcoholism and consumption of hand sanitizer. They consumed an unknown amount of hand sanitizer containing 70%v/v ethanol per 100 ml. A clinical work-up and medico-legal autopsy combined with the preservation of viscera samples for toxicological analysis and tissue samples for histopathology were performed to determine the cause of death. Gross autopsy findings, positive Forensic Science Laboratory toxicology report, and histopathological findings confirmed death due to multi-organ dysfunction caused by acute hand sanitizer poisoning. History, circumstantial evidence, and crime scene findings confirmed the accidental manner of death. The present cases shed light on an emerging problem of hand sanitizer poisoning in India among alcohol-addicted people, particularly those who belong to the lower socio-economic strata.
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