Mortuary staff in Sheffield are using a new fingertip-based drug screening system to carry out a simple, non-invasive drug test on the deceased at the city’s Medico-Legal Centre, when pathologists indicate it may be helpful. The test works by analysing sweat deposits that remain on the fingertips after death.
The fingertip drug test is a convenient, non-invasive procedure. It takes just five seconds to collect a fingertip sweat sample from the deceased onto the small, disposable drug screening cartridge. A portable reader analyses samples taken in the post-mortem suite, providing test results for multiple drug groups (currently cocaine, opiates, cannabis and amphetamines) simultaneously in under 10 minutes. The new system provides the coroner’s staff with valuable information which can help to identify possible drug involvement in a death.
“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,” said Maxine Coe, Mortuary Manager at the Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre. “Our trials of the Intelligent Fingerprinting system showed that it’s very easy and quick to use, saves time and allows us to make smarter decisions about where further (potentially expensive) toxicology tests may or may not be required.”