Traces of medications, illicit drugs or alcohol may be found at the time of autopsy that can shed light onto the deceased’s behavioral and physical condition prior to death. In some cases this evidence can reveal the actual cause of death for the medical examiner. Therefore, Forensic pathologists are concerned with the detection and actual amount of alcohol, drugs or medication in tissues acquired from an autopsy. Following a detailed analysis, it is up to the pathologist to determine whether or not harmful substances were the cause of death or illness.
Furthermore, the legal implication of intoxication also is important when considering criminal intent or victim impairment. Blood alcohol level takes into account total body weight, while the level of intoxication wholly depends on the alcohol concentration in blood and tissues. After death, blood alcohol levels remain constant since the detoxifying action of the liver is ceased. However, decomposition of the body may greatly increase these levels. With this in mind, Forensic Panel experts maintain the understanding and sophistication to perform timely and careful examinations of the deceased. Peer-review offers a supplementary team of experts, including a toxicologist and an emergency medicine physician in addition to a pathologist, with extensive insight relevant to each discipline. In this manner, The Forensic Panel can give an opinion that represents proficiency in related fields of forensics to provide an all-encompassing picture of the case.