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Overdose Death Investigations: Ohio Coroner Information

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2013 Ohio State Coroners' Association (OSCA) and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) survey on Drug Overdose Death Investigations Practices and Challenges

A survey was conducted of all Ohio coroners in January 2013 by the Ohio State Coroners' Association (OSCA), in partnership with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), to gather information from Ohio coroners about death investigation procedures and challenges related to the prescription drug overdose epidemic.

From 1999 to 2011, the number of fatal overdoses increased by more than 440 percent, placing a large additional resource burden on Ohio coroners responsible for investigating these deaths. Most of what has been learned at the state level about fatal drug overdoses has been derived from Ohio death certificate (DC) data. While widespread use of DC data has enabled Ohio to stimulate state-level attention and policy change, questions remain about the drug overdose cases and the drugs involved. Question

In order to gain a better understanding of these issues and current challenges for Ohio coroners, OSCA and ODH conducted a survey of Ohio Coroners about their current suspected overdose death investigation practices, challenges and barriers.  

A few questions were also included to determine interest and participation in the Ohio Violent Death Reporting System (OH-VDRS).  A summary of the survey results is presented here.  A copy of the full results, including open-ended responses, is available to coroners upon request.

Click here to access the coroner survey results summary.

American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT) and the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) Issue Position Statement on Opioid Death Investigations:

  • ACMT an NAME convened an expert panel to generate evidence-based recommendations related to opioid death investigation.  These recommendations were published in March 2013 and address:  
  • Practice of death investigation and autopsy
  • Toxicological analysis
  • Interpretation of toxicological findings
  • Death certification to improve the precision of death certificate (DC) data available for public health surveillance

Click on this link to access the position statement:

2013 Ohio State Coroners Association Meeting – May 10th Presentation by former ODH Director, Theodore E. Wymyslo, M.D.   

Presentation includes:

  • Updated 2011 ODH Vital Statistics drug overdose death data
  • Summary of the 2013 Ohio Coroner Survey Results
  • Overview of the Seven NAME/ACMT Recommendations related to opioid death investigation
  • Ohio Coroner data relating to these recommendations
  • Screen shots from the Ohio Electronic Death Reporting System (EDRS) to indicate location and specificity of specific drugs as requested by ODH
  • Overview of the state response to the overdose epidemic

Click here to view the presentation slides.

Last Reviewed 9/4/13