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Requesting Toxicological Specimens From Tissue Procurement Organizations

Trim, Robert S. MBA, RN, CTBS*; Jentzen, Jeff MD, PhD; Penn, Genevieve RN, ABMDI

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 4 - p 372–373
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31828d68b2
Review Article

Opinions based on toxicology results are dependent, in part, upon the quality of the specimen’s acquisition, storage, and chain of custody. The responsibility for these factors is often delegated to tissue and eye bank technicians. These technicians are not employees of the medical examiner (ME)’s office and may have no documented training related to the proper acquisition and handling of retained toxicology specimens. Medical examiners and coroners often request tissue recovery technicians to provide them with these toxicology samples when the tissue recovery is performed before autopsy. This practice helps facilitate donation and is convenient for the ME, but there may be unexpected implications for both the technicians and the ME that deserve further consideration. This article highlights the relevant issues in the postmortem recovery of biological samples for toxicology analysis and makes recommendations for the practice.

From the *Operations, Midwest Division, RTI Biologics, Donor Services Division, Middleton, WI; †Autopsy and Forensic Services, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; and ‡Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, Milwaukee, WI.

Manuscript received May 5, 2011; accepted September 2, 2011.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Robert S. Trim, MBA, RN, CTBS, Operations, Midwest Division, RTI Biologics, Donor Services Division, 8120 Forsythia St, Suite 2, Middleton, WI 53562. E-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.