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State to help fund Hamilton County overdose death investigations

State to help fund Hamilton County overdose death investigations
Posted at 4:11 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-04 16:11:43-04

CINCINNATI -- The Ohio Department of Health will help subsidize the cost of investigations into suspected drug overdose deaths in Hamilton County, officials announced Wednesday. 

Health officials will pay the Hamilton County Coroner's Office $54,904 to cover part of the cost of toxicology screenings in suspected overdose cases. 

Fatal overdoses involving opioids rose in Hamilton County for the third straight year in 2017, coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco previously said. There were 529 people who died from overdoses in Hamilton County last year, including 373 who died from opioid overdoses. 

The state funds will help pay for blood samples to be tested for the type and amount of drugs in a person's body, and to help determine the exact cause of death. Coroners must provide the state quarterly with data about the number of toxicology screenings performed in order to qualify for funding, officials said. 

"Drug overdose death data provided by county coroners to the state helps inform Ohio’s comprehensive and aggressive approach to combating drug overdoses and saving lives," ODH Director Lance Himes said.