Repeated Errors Found in Indiana Toxicology Tests

A new toxicology audit out of Indiana suggests some troubling results that could have implications for criminal investigations into medical errors.

The Chicago Tribune posted a story yesterday on the issue which developed following work by the Indiana Department of Toxicology. Outside scientists examined 26 cases of toxicology work by the department, the group uncovered repeated examples of deficient lab standards and chain-of-custody gaps. The scientists will eventually review up to 10,000 cases to determine the scope of the problem and its forms. However, the results in just the first 26 cases reveal an ingrained problem of improper testing processes.

Toxicology tests are used in a wide-range of cases, including all criminal matters where illegal substances use is at issue. The results are also used in many civil cases, where the substance use of involved individuals is a key part of the negligence in a case. It goes without saying that all judicial systems depends on reliable lab results.

The average individual does not have any expertise in these issues or access to the details of the testing results. Consequently, the determination of the department that handles these matters is taken as true almost without question. The negligent operation at the department is therefore extremely troubling, because it paves the way for extreme injustice.

Our Chicago malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti are well-aware that many times testing processes are performed incorrectly or negligently handled. The consequences for all sorts of testing errors are stark. Lives often hang in the balance when medical professionals conduct these activities-it is unacceptable for problems to be as far-reaching as they appear to be from this audit.

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