Case Studies: Anesthesiologists May Need to Assist More Frequently in Homicide Investigations, Increase Efforts to Prevent Drug Diversion

Anesthesiologists may face an increased demand for their expertise in homicide investigations and vigilance in preventing drug diversion, according to a case report published in the March issue of Anesthesiology.

The report presented five cases of homicides or attempted homicides involving the anesthetics rocuronium, succinylcholine, fentanyl and pancuroniumin. In each example, at least one of the authors provided testimony or consultation.

The authors suggest that the public's possible increased awareness of anesthetics may require anesthesiologists to participate more frequently in homicide cases. The authors offer suggestions for ways anesthesiologists can assist investigators, including recommending specific tissue and blood analyses, explaining how anesthetics can cause death and describing a probable method of drug administration.

The authors also point to the potential lethal results of diversion of drugs, including muscle relaxants, and propose a need for more effective preventative measures.

Read the Anesthesiology case report on anesthesia-related homicides.

Read more coverage on anesthesia:

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- Melatonin Can Relieve Surgical Pain in Children, Says UC Irvine Anesthesiologist

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