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Forensic Toxicology And Forensic Science

Introduction

Nowadays, we always heard news from the local and international media regarding the criminal issues that were extremely happened in our new century through television and other social media such as internet or radio. Incident of shooting, killing, hitting others and other type of criminal that happened nowadays make the enforcement team alerts to be very careful to investigate these types of cases. Nevertheless, the physical injuries are not fully expressed on how the real situation happened. According to that situation, the concept of forensic toxicology was applied in supporting the enforcement team to investigate in more details and further more solving the cases.

Forensic toxicology is a subdivision of forensic science. It is a scope of scientific application in laws which are useful to examine attentively the chemical compounds that cause interruption of the biological mechanisms of human. In other words, the study of the concentration level of chemical compound that has been misused in purposely or accidentally in human body as a manner to prove that he is guilty. Like example, a driver was found drunk during driving and accident happened. The level of alcohol concentration in the driver’s body are measured to determine whether the driver were drunk while driving. The blood or urine sample was taken from the driver to measure the alcohol level concentration. If the concentration alcohol level over the normal limit of consumes alcohol, the driver will be charged or fine by the investigating officer.

The Importance Of Forensic Toxicology

Every cases involving death need further investigation to determine the cause of death. To assist in the investigation, the police team who investigate the case will give order to hospital team to do post mortem in order to determine the cause of death on each cases. Medical officer in charge of post mortem will take a few samples such as blood, urine, or any kind of specimen taken from the dead body to help them investigate the case. The samples will be tested qualitatively or quantitatively to support the finding during the post mortem session.

The main duty in forensic toxicology is to analyse qualitatively or quantitatively the sample taken from the dead body. According to Society of Forensic Toxicologist, Inc., the task of forensic toxicology covered in three scopes; to analyse and determine the detected drugs whether the drugs can be the cause of death, to analyse presence of alcohol or misuse of drugs that can cause changes in uncontrolled behaviour of the offender and to analyse drugs of abuse in urine or blood for the cases of drugs misuse as mentioned in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952. Other than that, forensic toxicology is a division on helping the investigator to determine how far the level using the drugs can interrupt the biological system of the offender that can cause accident or purposely happened.

Application Of Forensic Toxicology In Malaysia

In Malaysia, the application of forensic toxicology depends on type of cases that were received by the investigating officer. The types of cases that required a forensic toxicology examination are divided into three categories:

  1. Death causes by poisoning that include sudden death, death in custody/prison, death in destructive burning, and death causes by side effect of medicine or carelessness during the treatment.
  2. Accident that causes self injuries or other people as a result of drunken, misuse of medicine or drugs.
  3. Drugs misuse or poisoning cases consequence from taking medicine, food, cosmetic, health equipment or any other dangerous item that were not followed the health standard.

For these categories, the police will send the body to hospital for assisting them to determine the cause of death. In hospital, the samples will be taken from the dead body for the purpose of further examination in order to support the finding to determine the cause of death. The role of forensic toxicology is very important in order to determine types of chemical content in the samples. There are three stages of running the analysis.

  1. Stage of sample preparation
  2. Stage of pre-analytical and confirmation test
  3. Stage of interpretation and reporting of results

Generally, forensic toxicology analysis is not appointed on a certain type of chemical compound to be analysed. The scope of test is widely covered to all types of chemical compound that has the possibility can be the cause of death. But, the scope of the test can be narrowed down based on the examination report from the scene and report retrieved from the investigating officer or medical officer performed the post mortem of the dead body. For example, misuse of drugs leading to a death. The blood sample was taken from the dead body will be analysed for the purpose to find out the types of drugs taken and the dosage been administered in the body. The chain of custody must be properly recorded and maintained.

Interpretation Of Results

Toxicology forensic analysis need to be reported either in qualitatively or quantitatively. For the qualitative testing, the finding of the analysis will report whether present or not present of target chemical compound in the sample. Otherwise in preparing the forensic toxicology report for quantitative testing will report the concentration amount of the chemical compound found in the sample. In the early stage of pre-analytical testing is very useful as a guideline to make sure the presence of target chemical compound. The detection of the chemical compound will be analyse again to the stage of confirmation testing so it will help to give the conclusion whether or not the victim taking the chemical compound. The technique of confirmation testing are using of chromatography concept that can detect the target of chemical compound. The final report of forensic toxicology analysis is a very useful tool as supportive evidence for medical officer to determine the cause of death.

References

  1. www.soft-tox.org/?
  2. http://www.kimia.gov.my/
  3. http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-drugs-chart
  4. Akta Dadah Merbahaya 1952

 

Last Reviewed : 2 July 2014
Writer / Translator : Lelyan Minsun
Accreditor : Nurizan bt. Ismawi