Forensic Nursing, Pharmacology and the Forensic Pharmacist

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Forensic Pharmacists deals with the application of medication sciences to legal issues. They have a specialized knowledge concerning the practice of pharmacy and are frequently used when a deceased person’s outcome is not expected. This can cause a basis for legal action, which requires the expertise of a Forensic Pharmacist to assist in legal issues pertaining to the pharmacological scope of an investigation.

For example, in the event of a death investigation, Forensic Pharmacists are able to assess a person’s medication history in order to review what medications the deceased was using and to distinguish whether their medications used alone or mixed with others were cause of their death. If alcohol had been ingested, a Forensic Pharmacist would be able to determine whether the amount of alcohol interfered with the deceased medications and may have caused an additive effect to the alcohol or medication. They are also an asset in interpreting drug levels for investigations.

Some issues concerning Forensic Pharmacists as written by Peter D. Anderson, Pharm.D., R.Ph., DABFE, FASCP, FACFE are prescription forgery; screening and testing for drugs of abuse; medication errors; adverse drug reactions; drug impaired driving; drug induced violence; and poisoning.

The Forensic Nurse and the Forensic Pharmacist are valuable assets in legal investigation. Because of their expertise in their medical profession, they are able to join forces in order to make assessments, diagnoses, evaluations and outcomes pertaining to a particular investigation. Through assessments and collecting pharmacological data, they are able to screen and test for alcohol and drug usage via blood samples; check hospital records for medication errors; check to see if the medication the person was using was a legal substance regulated by the FDA; and whether or not adverse reactions when mixing medications were a cause for a person’s death.

Forensic Pharmacists are involved in more than legal investigations. They can be found serving as an officer on a drug testing crew for the Olympics; serving as a Consumer Safety Officer for the FDA; employed as an investigator or special agent for the DEA, FBI, state Health Department, Narcotic Agency or Board of Pharmacy. They also work as criminalists for police departments; provide pharmaceutical services at prisons and serve as toxicologists for medical examiner’s offices.

A Forensic Pharmacist has a broad range of avenues to perform their area of expertise. They are definitely an asset in investigations and legal issues.

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