Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 295–300 | Cite as

Single stab injuries

  • Michael P. BurkeEmail author
  • Yeliena Baber
  • Zoe Cheung
  • Mark Fitzgerald
Original Article


Determining the manner of death in cases involving multiple stab injuries from a knife is generally straightforward. The medico-legal investigation of a stabbing death caused by a single stab injury from a knife comprises a smaller but potentially more problematic subset of forensic cases. We reviewed our institute’s experience with single stab injuries and endeavored to identify features identified at the post-mortem examination which may aid in the differentiation between cases of homicide, suicide and accidental death. The single stab injury was to the left chest in the majority of deaths from homicide and from suicide. Clothing was nearly always involved in cases of homicide, but was also seen in cases of suicide. The knife was found in situ in 9 of the 11 cases of suicide involving a chest injury, but was not seen in any of the cases of homicide. There were no cases of an accidental single stab death from a knife in our records. Clinical data on accidental stab injuries was sought via a search of the medical records of a major tertiary referral hospital. A single non-fatal case of an accidental single stab injury from a knife was identified after the conclusion of our study period. Accidental stab injuries from a knife causing injury or death are rare.


Sharp force injury Single stab Homicide Suicide Running onto a knife 



We would like to acknowledge librarian Janine Krochmal for her valuable assistance, Mr. Michael Krochmal for the English translation of the article by Wilke (reference 26), and The Alfred Hospital, 55 Commercial Road Prahran, Victoria, Australia, 3004.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forensic MedicineVictorian Institute of Forensic MedicineSouthbankAustralia
  2. 2.Alfred HealthNational Trauma Research InstituteMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.National Trauma Research Institute, Department of Surgery, Central Clinical SchoolMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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