NC DHHS' Forensic Toxicology Laboratory Achieves National Accreditation

Raleigh, NC

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Toxicology Laboratory for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) announced today that it has achieved national accreditation from the American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT). This accomplishment is part of a larger goal established by DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos, M.D. to achieve national accreditation for the regional offices of the North Carolina Medical Examiner system.

The Toxicology Laboratory serves all 100 counties of the North Carolina Medical Examiner System by providing forensic analytical testing of tissue and fluid specimens and evidence from medical examiner cases. The laboratory is responsible for analytical testing, records maintenance and review of analytical testing for more than 9,000 medical examiner cases annually. The staff, which consists of toxicologists, chemists, laboratory technicians and administrative technicians, performs more than 25,000 analytical tests each year.

"Receiving this accreditation by a national certifying board is an essential step toward achieving DHHS' goal of national accreditation of the entire medical examiner system," said Secretary Wos. "Our staff has worked diligently to achieve this important goal, and they are to be commended for their hard work."

Over the course of two days in April, ABFT visited the Toxicology Laboratory for an on-site inspection during which reviewers examined the lab's facilities, policies, procedures, personnel qualifications and performance on proficiency testing for compliance with a comprehensive checklist of quality laboratory standards. This is the first time North Carolina's postmortem toxicology laboratory has undergone the accreditation process.

"I am proud of how well prepared the laboratory was for the initial review process, thanks to Chief Toxicologist Ruth Winecker, PhD," said Deborah L. Radisch, MD, Chief Medical Examiner.

Accreditation by ABFT allows OCME and other autopsy centers in the North Carolina Medical Examiner system to move forward with national accreditation efforts.

For more information on the American Board of Forensic Toxicology, please visit: http://www.abft.org

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