Bill passed by Senate would require coroners to conduct more in-depth overdose death investigations

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would require coroners in Indiana counties to do deeper investigations into suspected overdose deaths.

SB 139 passed in a 47-2 vote in the Senate, sending it to the House for consideration. If it were to become law, coroners would be required to obtain information about the deceased from INSPECT, Indiana’s prescription monitoring program.

Coroners would also have to extract and test certain body fluids and provide Indiana Department of Health (ISDH) officials with notice of the person’s death, along with test results and any information about the controlled substances involved.

Indiana coroners would have to do this each time they suspect a cause of death to be an accidental or intentional overdose.

“Our state is facing an opioid epidemic like we have never witnessed before,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis). “We cannot address individual communities’ needs without having the data to back up claims. Requiring coroners to record this information, will increase the accuracy and specificity of Indiana’s drug overdose death data, which will help us in attacking this epidemic quickly and more effectively.”

ISDH has a new, online case management system which aims to reduce the burden on coroners’ offices and provide timelier analysis and reporting.