Clinical History and Characteristics of Persons with Oxycodone-Related Deaths in Hillsborough County, Florida in 2009

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prescription drug-related deaths, Oxycodone, prescription drug abuse, toxicology

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Aims: To analyze toxicological findings of accidental deaths involving oxycodone to determine demographic characteristics and clinical histories.

Methods: Accidental deaths in which oxycodone was mentioned as a cause of death were analyzed. The sample included all persons deceased in Hillsborough County in 2009 where oxycodone was present. The entire sample was divided into two subgroups listing oxycodone as the primary/contributory cause of death (n = 117) or oxycodone as the incidental cause of death (n = 38). Differences between the two groups in demographic and clinical history variables as well as the presence and concentration of drugs were examined.

Results: The majority of decedents within the entire sample (N = 155) were Caucasian males (58.1%) aged 50 or older. More than half of the population (52.9%) did not hold prescriptions for oxycodone. Those who died with a primary/contributory cause of death were younger, more likely to have a history of substance abuse, and more likely to have alprazolam (Xanax) present in their system. Across the entire sample, the mean oxycodone concentration level was 0.40 mg/L, with a range from 0.02 to 3.70 mg/L. Those who died with a primary/contributory cause of death had a significantly higher level of mean oxycodone concentration than those with an incidental cause of death, 0.48 mg/L compared to 0.16 mg/L.

Conclusions: Results suggest that the demographic findings mirror statewide and national trends. In general, mean oxycodone concentration levels were shown to be lower than those previously reported in literature. Overlap and range of concentrations between those with a primary/contributory and incidental cause of death demonstrates the significance of individual case history and tolerance in the interpretation of postmortem drug concentrations when determining cause and manner of death.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Forensic Science International, v. 223, issues 1-3, p. 47-52