More than 90% of deaths in the United States (USA) die from natural causes. But what is considered an “unnatural” cause?
A natural death occurs due to an internal disease in the body, he explained to the HuffPost Kathryn Pinneri, forensic pathologist and president of the National Association of Medical Examiners. At deaths caused by cancerheart disease or diabetes are considered natural.
On the other hand, “unnatural” deaths derive from a situation or external factors: suicide, homicide, drowning, car accident or overdose, among others.
According to the article, death certificates distinguish the cause and form of death. Although a person is said to have died of natural causes, the term “natural” refers to the way in which the person died, not the cause.
The death certificate specifies the immediate cause death, as well as underlying conditions that may have contributed. For example, the immediate cause of death may be a hemorrhage or a stroke, caused by hypertension – which is, in this case, the underlying cause.
In cases of natural death, it is normally the physician who treats the patient who determines the cause and manner of death. However, if the death is from unnatural causes, the death certificate is completed by a coroner.
“In determining the cause and manner of a natural death, medical records and the circumstances” in which it occurred are noted, Kathryn Pinneri said. “For unnatural deaths, additional information is needed.”
In some cases, however, It’s not easy to determine if death is natural. According to the doctor, there are situations in which a person develops a natural disease as a result of an unnatural event. An example: when someone falls, they break their hip and, when hospitalized, they contract pneumonia and die.
“Any unnatural event related to a death will take precedence, no matter the interval” between the two moments, said Kathryn Pinneri.
According to Harold Sanchez, a pathologist at the Yale University School of Medicine, “If a bank employee is paralyzed from a gunshot wound during a robbery and dies 20 years later as a result of the complications of the paralysis, then that death is a homicide and not a natural death.”
“Sometimes the differences can be subtle. If there is any doubt, we contact the coroners. They have the last word on these matters,” she added.