Creation of a Queryable Toxicology Database Available to Forensic Pathologists

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Forensic pathologists typically depend upon case reports or published compilations of case reports when determining the role a drug may have played in death. Case reports may provide a helpful range, but the cases reported are typically few and often lack information on circumstances surrounding death and autopsy findings. A searchable database recording circumstances, autopsy findings, drug concentrations, and the cause and manner of death would allow forensic pathologists to compare a specific case to similar cases, facilitating evaluation and interpretation of toxicology results. Method: This project uses data extracted by computer programs from over 18 000 computer files of autopsy and toxicology reports generated between 2004 and 2012. Using PHP Hypertext Preprocessor and MariaDB, a relational database, we developed a webpage that stores the data and allows for complex queries. Results: Users can search for cases by specifying drugs and medical conditions, demographics, height, body mass, and manner of death. The number of cases with a given drug for this eight-year span from one office is comparable to the numbers reported in compilations of case reports. Conclusion: Our webpage enables a pathologist evaluating a case to search the database for cases with similar circumstances and findings. New cases are easily added to the database as they are completed. The database allows other institutions to contribute data and records the data source, which increases the usefulness of the database even more. This database provides pathologists a powerful new tool for the evaluation of toxicology findings in their practice.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 20852299
  • Author List

  • Cain MD; Park SL; Robinson CA; Davis GG
  • Start Page

  • 300
  • End Page

  • 305
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 2