Forensic Toxicologists perform scientific tests on bodily fluids and tissue samples to identify any drugs or chemicals present within a decedent in order to assess the potential risks and harmful effects posed by them. Not all Medical Examiner cases require toxicology testing. When ordered by the forensic pathologist, toxicology testing is performed on one or more samples collected during an autopsy such as blood, urine, vitreous fluid or stomach contents. In cases where the decedent was hospitalized prior to death, admission specimens (if available) may be obtained and tested. Forensic Toxicologists also analyze samples of potential drugs, drug paraphernalia and some medications collected by Investigators from death scenes.
Most toxicology testing is performed within the Summit County Forensic Laboratory which is located within the Summit County Medical Examiner’s facility. In some cases, specialized or additional testing is required for which samples are sent to an outside laboratory to be examined. Toxicology testing for most cases is completed within 4-6 weeks and sometimes sooner. When samples are sent outside of our lab the length of time required to receive toxicology results is generally extended.
When toxicology testing is completed, the Forensic Toxicologist creates a final Toxicology Report which assists the Medical Examiner in determining cause and manner of death. The Forensic Toxicologist also provides courtroom testimony when necessary.