Author Question: How Long for Toxicology Results?

Susan Asks:

If suicide is suspected due to the mental health of victim, and it appears alcohol and opioids were involved, how long will it take to get a toxicology report back after the autopsy?

Jordyn Says:

Usually results such as these through a medical examiner’s office are 4-6 weeks.

However, if the patient was a medical patient and seen in the emergency department, these tests likely would have been done and would be resulted fairly immediately. The family could request a copy of the chart through the medical records department which should be more readily available. Or, if being investigated, the police can go through the courts to obtain a copy as well.

At times, in the event of a patient death, the doctor may choose to disclose medical findings to next of kin to explain the death and might choose to give these results, but likely wouldn’t give a physical copy of the lab report in something sensitive of this nature. The doctor might choose to say something vague such as, “We suspect your loved one died due to respiratory failure that could have been induced by drugs in their system.” Or they could leave out the suspected drug component all together due to concern over legalities.

Hope this helps and best of luck with your story!

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