Sheffield Coroner’s Office among first to trial new drug test

A Sheffield Coroner’s Office has become one of the first to use a new sweat-based drug test to determine cause of death.

The new test uses a small disposable drug-screening cartridge, which the finger is pressed on to. It takes just five seconds for the screening cartridge to collect the sample, which is then put into a portable reader which can analyse and provide test results for multiple drug groups in under 10 minutes.

Maxine Coe, mortuary manager at the Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre said: “Having a simple, non-invasive and rapid fingertip drug screen is already proving a valuable source of additional information, giving the Coroner’s Office important early intelligence on potential drug use.”

The new system provides staff at the Coroner’s Office with valuable information which can help to immediately identify possible drug involvement in a death.

A spokesperson for HM Coroner for South Yorkshire (West) District added: “It is the coroner’s function to determine the medical cause of death. Drug use, and whether this contributed to the death, is a growing factor in our work.

“The testing so far has suggested that this type of device will be a really useful tool for early toxicology indication, albeit not intended to be evidential. It should alert us to the cases that need to be subject to full toxicology, and in some cases, may obviate the need for any toxicology tests at all.”

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