Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,000)
The Hamilton County Coroner's Office and Crime Laboratory continues to face budgetary challenges including reduced funding from the Hamilton County local government. However, dynamic drug trends in combination with the continuing opioid epidemic have only caused budgetary needs to increase. This issue is exacerbated by the rise of novel synthetic drugs in and the toxicology section’s inability to adequately test for them. Funding obtained through this grant will allow the toxicology section to reduce turnaround time and backlogged cases while maintaining high casework throughput and staying current with the technology necessary to quantitate small-dose drug concentrations.
The goal of this project is to reduce current turnaround time and backlog numbers through the purchase and utilization of two new Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) systems and one Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometer (LC-MS/MS) system. Current instrumentation has limiting capabilities when it comes to identifying and quantitating novel synthetic drugs. Instrument availability also limits the section’s ability to expand the analytical scope. Opioid and Fentanyl confirmations are performed on these instruments and growing casework numbers require an increase in available instrumentation. New instrumentation will allow for detection capabilities not obtainable, currently.
Existing drug confirmation techniques will be moved to the new instrumentation, allowing for more cases to be analyzed per day, resulting in a decrease in case testing time. Over the three years, there will be a measurable and sustainable decrease in backlog numbers and improved testing efficiency.
The outcome of this project will be a sustainable increase in testing efficiency and a resulting decrease in turnaround time and backlogged cases. Opiate and Fentanyl cases will be analyzed at a more efficient rate and novel synthetic drugs affecting the area will be analyzed quickly and comprehensively using the improved sensitivity capabilities of the desired GC/MS and LC-MS/MS systems.