Medicolegal Death Investigation Partnerships on Overdose Fatality Reviews

Medicolegal Death Investigation Partnerships on Overdose Fatality Reviews


July 2022


The main purpose of Overdose Fatality Reviews (OFRs) is to review overdose fatalities and find gaps in services to help save lives. They rely on a multi-agency approach to information sharing to accomplish this goal. Upon completion of case reviews, OFR teams formulate recommendations to improve services based on the advice from a collaboration of partners, each of whom brings a unique perspective to the team. Most OFRs rely heavily on the cooperation and assistance from medicolegal death investigation (MDI) personnel in their jurisdiction. The OFR process begins with a notification of an overdose, which is key to providing a real-time perspective for the deaths reviewed along with insight into community trends. The work of death investigators is critical to understanding how to address the overdose epidemic and the overall process of an OFR. Fostering partnerships with the MDI community and getting them involved in the OFR process is key to sharing information and saving lives.

“The importance of death investigation cannot be underestimated. Data collected during a death investigation provides more information than just cause and manner of death. It can shed light on what happened and why. The information we bring to OFRs is a critical piece of the puzzle for identifying innovative strategies that address fatal drug overdose.”

- Megan Broekemeier, MPH, CHES | Opioid Fatality Research Coordinator, Utah Department of Health

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence report was provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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