Death related to epiglottitis.Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2020 Mar; 16(1):177-179.FS
Although death due to epiglottitis is well-reported in the medical literature, because of vaccines and antibiotics, deaths caused by epiglottitis are rare in the era of modern medicine. This report presents a case of epiglottitis-related death occurring in a middle-aged diabetic man. He initially presented to an emergency department with complaints of a sore throat and bilateral ear pain. Although a quick test for Strep pneumoniae was negative, the work-up was not extensive enough to exclude epiglottitis. He was discharged with a prescription for a decongestant and instructed to drink plenty of fluids. He subsequently collapsed in respiratory distress while waiting to fill his prescription at a pharmacy. He was admitted to the hospital and eventually diagnosed with anoxic brain injury, dying 4 days following his initial presentation. Autopsy disclosed gross and microscopic features of acute epiglottitis, which was considered the underlying cause of death. Awareness of epiglottitis and its risk factors is essential in identifying the proper diagnosis clinically. Characteristic findings at autopsy can confirm the diagnosis.