Forensic Chemistry

 

In cases with suspicion of poisoning, drug deaths, homicides and non solved cases, investigations will be made for medicine and  - depending on the circumstances - drugs.

 

Personal examination cases

When the Police require a forensic person examination at Department of Forensic Medicine, blood and urin tests will be taken for analysis. For instance, in cases of violence or rape, tests will be taken from both the suspected  perpetrator and the victim. The purpose is to investigate whether influence of medication or drugs can play an important role in the case. Medicine and drugs disappear relatively fast from the blood, but can be traced for a longer time in the urin, typically for a couple of days, depending on which drug.

 

 Facts

Drug identification will be made

  • at forensic autopsies
  • at person examinations of victims and perpetrators
  • at confiscated drug-effects

Analyses

Analyses will be made after request by the Police or the legal system within the Department district, i.e.  Funen, and Southern Jutland. The analyses are made in order to identify and estimate concentrations of medicine, narcotics and other unknown  drugs. For a start, screenings analyses will be made, where drugs of unknown nature will be identified by means of gascromatography with mass spectrometry technology (GC-MS). After this the concentration of the findings will be estimated and verified by using  high pressure liquid concentration technology (HPLC) compared to known standard drugs. Negative as well as positive findings will be reported in a chemical statement, which is part of the final forensic report.

In 2015 the department produced in total  1902 Chemical forensic statements divided in to alcohol-,  toxicolical and illegal drugs, and narcotics analyses.

About the Department

Unit of Forensic Chemistry is a subdivision under Department of  Forensic Medicine at University of Southern Denmark. The permanent staff of the Unit consists of 1 Head of Department, 5 Forensic Chemists and 8 lab technicians plus a number of temporary workers when needed. The Unit is situated at J.B. Winslows Vej, Building 17, close to Odense University Hospital. 

 

Alcohol estimation

Unit of Forensic Chemistry is carrying out blood alcohol level tests in autopsy cases, where blood alcohol level is just a part of a larger analysis programme of medicine and drugs. The blood alchol level in theses cases can be estimated through  tests from blood samples, urin or eye liquid.   

The samples are collected in teams and analysed together with control samples of known content. The analysis is run by socalled headspace gascromatography with flame ionisation detector.

The results of the investigations are written in a forensic statement, where  the results after deduction  - the socalled lowest value - is  forming the basis for the  police evaluation and the possible following conviction.  

Facts about the department's variety of analyses and names of medicaments and drugs examined:

  • Opioids (Morphine, Oxycodone, Methadone, Naloxone, Ketogan etc.)
  • Central stimulating drugs (amfetamin, methylphenidat etc.)
  • Psycedelic drugs (Khat, MDA, Metamfetamin)
  • Circulation stimulating drugs (Dopamin, Aderenalin, Noradrenalin etc.)
  • Local anaesthetics (Lidocain, Xylocain etc.)
  • Antipsycotics (Flupentixol, Chlor-prothixen, Quetiapin, Levomepromazin etc.)
  • Antidepressants (Venlafaxin, Sertralin, Imipramin. Nortriptylin  etc.)
  • Βeta-blockers (Propranolol)
  • Anticholinergical medicaments (procyclidin)
  • Antagonists of adrenergical receptors (Mirtazapin, Mianserin)
  • Antihistamines (Hydroxyzin, Alime-mazine etc.)
  • Benzodiazepines (7-amino-nitrazepam, Diazepam, Clonazepam etc.)
  • Analgetics (Tramadol, Levorphanol, Para-cetamol, Ibuprofen etc.)
  • Cannabinoids (Cannabis etc.)
  • Special analyses (COHb, Ketones)

 

Projects

Besides the above mentioned main tasks, the department is also taking part in teaching, research and ongoing international and national projects, such as for instance surveillance of drug additct deaths in Denmark, monitoring of  drugs in the streets, monitoring of new drugs in Denmark (Early Warning System), mapping of risk factors of deaths among mentally ill persons (Survive) among other things.

 

Recently, a phd-project was carried out in the department  in collaboration with Department of Clinical Pharmacology.

 

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