Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $250,000)
As a result of the opioid crisis, the District Six Medical Examiner's Office (Pinellas and Pasco Florida) has seen year-to-year double digit increases in overdose death over the past 3 years. Between 2018 and 2019 the increase in accidental drug overdose deaths was 47 percent, between 2019 and 2020 the increase was a 35 percent. At this point (July 2021), suspected overdose death submissions have exceed the same time period in the previous year by more than 25%. Most of these cases involve polydrugs which include at least one opiate, opioid or novel synthetic substance. As a result the number and complexity of post mortem toxicology samples submitted to the Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory's (PCFL) toxicology unit for screening, confirmation and quantitation of drug and toxins has increased proportionately. This has resulted in a bottleneck in the analytical process based on limited instrumental capacity and an increase in turn around times and backlogs. PCFL is requesting funds to acquire a LC/MS/MS to increase laboratory capacity and thus decrease and/or minimize backlogs and turn around times for the confirmation and quantitation of analytes in post mortem and human performance toxicology cases.