Volume 42, Issue 1 (January 1997)
A Compilation of Fatal and Control Concentrations of Drugs in Postmortem Femoral Blood
A compilation of postmortem femoral blood concentrations of drugs is presented. The samples are collected from cases in which the cause of death was: A) certified intoxication by one substance alone, B) certified intoxication by more than one substance and/or alcohol, and C) certified other cause of death without incapacitation due to drugs. The concentrations were compared with blood concentrations detected in suspected drugged drivers (D), and with previously published fatal and therapeutic concentrations. The special features of this compilation are: 1) exclusively femoral blood concentrations are quoted, 2) all analyses are based on samples handled according to a standardized, quality-controlled procedure, 3) two control groups are included, and 4) one-substance-only intoxications are separated from other intoxications. The material is based on a selection of 15,800 samples sent to the Department of Forensic Chemistry in Linköping, Sweden, during 1992 to 1995 from the six forensic pathology units in Sweden, and the list includes 83 drugs. The compilation includes drugs, where previously published data are scarce. Furthermore, the data gathered from cases with other cause of death than intoxication (group C) constitute a new kind of reference information, which probably offers a better estimate of obviously non fatal levels in postmortem blood than any compilation of therapeutic concentrations in living subjects. The possible factors influencing postmortem drug concentrations are discussed.