Poisoning happens to be one of the oldest methods of killing and drug overdose. Forensic toxicology is the use of toxicology to aid medicolegal investigation of death, poisoning, and drug use.

The forensic toxicologist must determine which toxic substances are present, in what concentrations, and the probable effect of those chemicals on the person. The body’s natural processes often complicate determining the substance ingested, as it is rare for a chemical to remain in its original form once in the body. For example: heroin is almost immediately metabolised into morphine, making detailed investigation into factors such as injection marks and chemical purity necessary to confirm diagnosis.

Laboratory analysis can identify and measure the levels of drugs, alcohols and poisons in biological samples such as blood, urine or tissue. The information may then be used by counsel and the courts to help determine if laws have been broken and/or if criminal charges are warranted. The forensic nurse may aid in collecting blood, urine, hair, tissue and other bodily fluid samples.


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