1st Edition

Practical Forensic Pathology and Toxicology

By Dorothy E. Dean, Robert H. Powers Copyright 2025
    232 Pages 67 Color & 5 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Practical Forensic Pathology and Toxicology is a companion to the authors’ original book on the subject, Forensic Toxicology: Mechanisms and Pathology.

    This new volume addresses  issues that forensic pathologists face when confronted by the suspected or demonstrated presence of drugs or toxins in their cases. Since such considerations include the need for a basic understanding of the direct physiologic effects of potentially toxic agents , the authors highlight various connections and interaction between both forensic pathology and toxicology. The book is  written for both the practicing pathologist, and those in training, who may already have some knowledge of forensic medicine, but are on occasion faced with issues that reach beyond a basic  determination of cause and manner of death.

    Pathologists are expected to provide informed, well-reasoned opinions explaining how a person died—which includes questions about any drugs, prescription medications or otherwise, that may have caused or contributed to death. As such, this  book looks at the direct physiologic effects of drugs and toxins, answering such questions as “Why does hypernatremia cause seizures?” or “Why can synthetic cannabinoids cause fatal complications, yet THC does not?” or the very timely “What is the mechanism by which an opiate overdose causes death?” Coverage centers primarily on the pathologic derangements and physiological consequences to the actions of drugs and toxins, and the cellular mechanisms by which those pathologic consequences arise.

    Organized along an organ system approach, chapters are divided into major target organ systems and sections added in for those organs and tissues also affected. While some drugs affect more than one organ system—and some patients will have multiple drugs present—the book’s categorization and organization takes this approach to be readily usable for the reader. Case reports are included with additional patient data to show the effects of specific toxins and poisons both alone and in combination with natural disease. Color figures illustrate all aspects of drug or toxin impact on postmortem casework including the scene of death, the deceased persons, the organs and tissues affected.

    Practical Forensic Pathology and Toxicology is an invaluable resource for practicing pathologists, toxicologists, and those training for those fields. It also serves as a useful reference for lawyers, judges, insurance companies, and other medical professionals who need to know, in light of what drugs are present  in a particular case, what such compounds do, and how their presence (or absence thereof) is—or is not—related to an individual’s death. 


    1. General Considerations

    2. Practical Forensic Toxicology

    3. Systemic Toxins

    4. Alcohol and Related  Compounds

    5. Respiratory Toxins and Chemical Asphyxiants

    6. Cardiotoxins

    7. Hepatotoxins

    8. Nervous System Toxins


    Dorothy E. Dean, MD is a Forensic Pathologist at the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office in Cincinnati, Ohio and is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in the Department of Pathology. One of her major interests is the evaluation of drug- and poison-related fatalities. She, along with Dr. Powers, co-authored Forensic Toxicology Mechanisms and Pathology (Taylor and Francis, 2016), as well as several scientific articles on the subject.

    Robert H. Powers, PhD is a professor at the University of New Haven Department of Forensic Sciences, where he has taught forensic toxicology at both the undergraduate and graduate level for over 10 years.  He is active nationwide as a forensic consultant and expert witness for civil and criminal cases, with a particular focus on questions related to the potential of drug involvement in death cases, and drug and alcohol -related impairment issues. He is the co-author of many scientific articles as well as Forensic Toxicology Mechanisms and Pathology with Dr. Dean.