Role of Forensics in the Cases of Criminal Poisoning

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Criminal homicidal poisoning is a murder in which poison is the murder weapon. Poisoning homicides are rare and in some cases likely go undetected. There are a total of about 16,000 homicide deaths reported per year in the United States, and less than 1% of these are the result of intentional poisoning. As the symptoms of poisoning are often difficult to distinguish from those of natural diseases, intentional poisoning deaths can be easily misdiagnosed or attributed to an acute illness. Homicide poisoning deaths can also appear to be accidental or due to suicidal behavior. Beyond the difficulty in diagnosing poisoning deaths, the circumstances surrounding the death may include false information provided by the perpetrator of the crime. Homicidal poisoning is difficult to investigate and often requires advanced technology and skills, and a significant commitment of investigative resources.

The samples taken for analysis and the techniques used to detect and identify poisons are generally similar for both clinical and forensic toxicology. The clinical toxicologist is primarily concerned with the identification of drugs and poisons as an aid to the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic poisoning. If the patient dies, the analytical data obtained by the clinical toxicologist may well be sufficient for use by the pathologist and the coroner in determining the cause of death in cases where there are no suspicious circumstances. In other cases, including those where the patient recovers but claims to have been poisoned by a third party, it is usual for the investigation to be referred to a forensic toxicologist.

Analysis of blood is one of the most widely used interpretative specimens of toxicology analysis. It is particularly useful for the interpretation of drug levels and their metabolites in postmortem and human performance forensic toxicology. For example, blood can be used to determine whether an individual was under the influence of alcohol or other drugs while operating a motor vehicle. A blood analysis can also provide valuable information in postmortem cases, such as the effect of a drug at the time of death or in cases of suspected drug overdose and poisoning.

Referred from:
Franjić, S. (2018). Role of Forensics in the Cases of Criminal Poisoning. American International Journal of Multidisciplinary Scientific Research, 1(1), 25-30.

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