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FabulaScribe
11-12-2014, 12:30 AM
I have a character in my novel set in 1988 who is a police officer investigating a death two years earlier from Rohypnol. The victim had Hypotension and was drinking the night she died, and her cause of death was determined to be Hypotension complicated by alcohol. It is only later that it comes to light that she may have been drugged with Rohypnol.

Can anyone tell me if tissue samples would likely have been saved from her autopsy? If so, would an officer be able to have them tested for the presence of known date-rape drugs? Would Rohypnol show up in those tissue samples two years after the initial autopsy was performed?

Thank you!

jclarkdawe
11-12-2014, 03:40 AM
Did she have an underlying condition of hypotension, one that she was being treated for?

As far as I know, hypotension is not a cause of death, although it may be a contributing cause of death. Cause of death would most likely have been an acute myocardial infarction. Tissues may show signs of low blood perfusion, leading to a conclusion of hypotension leading to an acute myocardial infarction.

It is possible that low blood perfusion may lead to the failure of some other organs, such as the kidneys, and that was the cause of death.

Alcohol level, as well as other drugs, is determined by testing blood levels. Preservation of tissues removes the blood, so that's not a source. Rohypnol isn't easy to detect even when you test for it. It has a short half-life, and disappears from the system fairly quickly.

If the pathologist suspects hypotension as a contributing cause of death, the pathologist would investigate the blood/alcohol levels to determine whether the level is sufficiently high to have cause hypotension sufficiently low to lead to an acute myocardial infarction.

If the blood/alcohol level is not that high, a full panel toxicity test would be conducted, which may include rohyphol. Different labs test a bit differently here. If she has signs of sexual activity and the pathologist thought the death was suspicious, than a test would probably include rohyphol.

I'm not seeing a way to get where you want to go. Possible solution would be a transcription error where the lab tech lists the rohyphol on the test results, but forgets to include it in the report sent to the pathologist. It has happened, but it's rare.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

7luckyclovers
12-31-2014, 09:40 PM
Did she have an underlying condition of hypotension, one that she was being treated for?

As far as I know, hypotension is not a cause of death, although it may be a contributing cause of death. Cause of death would most likely have been an acute myocardial infarction. Tissues may show signs of low blood perfusion, leading to a conclusion of hypotension leading to an acute myocardial infarction.

It is possible that low blood perfusion may lead to the failure of some other organs, such as the kidneys, and that was the cause of death.

Alcohol level, as well as other drugs, is determined by testing blood levels. Preservation of tissues removes the blood, so that's not a source. Rohypnol isn't easy to detect even when you test for it. It has a short half-life, and disappears from the system fairly quickly.

If the pathologist suspects hypotension as a contributing cause of death, the pathologist would investigate the blood/alcohol levels to determine whether the level is sufficiently high to have cause hypotension sufficiently low to lead to an acute myocardial infarction.

If the blood/alcohol level is not that high, a full panel toxicity test would be conducted, which may include rohyphol. Different labs test a bit differently here. If she has signs of sexual activity and the pathologist thought the death was suspicious, than a test would probably include rohyphol.

I'm not seeing a way to get where you want to go. Possible solution would be a transcription error where the lab tech lists the rohyphol on the test results, but forgets to include it in the report sent to the pathologist. It has happened, but it's rare.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

It pains me that the OP didn't thank you for your response. Anyway, thank you for your response! It helped me immensely. :)

Cath
12-31-2014, 11:52 PM
The thanks could have been by PM or rep point yanno. :)

Deb Kinnard
01-01-2015, 12:09 AM
Did we even have Roofies in 1988? I don't remember them then, and I've worked in healthcare since the early 70s.