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Forensic toxicology refers to the branch of forensic medicine dealing with medical and legal aspects of the harmful effects of chemicals on human beings. Any substance which when administered in living body through any route will produce ill-health or death. To distinguish between accident and self-administration, the back-calculation from blood and tissue levels can arrive at a definite assessment of how much poison was originally administered.
When an autopsy cannot be performed quickly after death, then mortuary refrigeration is the first line of defence. If delay is foreseen, it may be possible to obtain a sample of blood through the body surface, such as puncturing the femoral vein by needle and syringe. There will be considerable local variation in the type of containers used for samples. Blood should be collected in screw-capped universal containers of about 30 ml or in plastic-capped tubes of about 5 ml.