Partnerships with Coroners for Improvements in Postmortem Toxicology Testing and Mortality Data in Idaho and Louisiana

Sharing timely overdose data and information is crucial to understand and develop strategies to reduce overdoses nationwide. In the following stories, the Louisiana ORS team and the Idaho ORS team proactively initiated collaborations with key public health and public safety partners to share overdose knowledge and establish response strategies.


In Louisiana prior to 2023, there was no data sharing between the ORS and coroners outside of Orleans Parish. The limited data sharing and lack of updated vital record data prohibited real-time overdose surveillance in Louisiana. Additionally, LA has a decentralized coroner system, where each parish elects its own coroner. To achieve data sharing, each individual coroner’s office must be contacted. In September 2023, the LA PHA arranged meetings with the DIO and contacts in the Calcasieu Parish to discuss coroner death data, overdose trends and related projects within the parish. The PHA also emailed contacts in other parishes to request an introduction to their respective coroner’s offices. Following outreach, the LA ORS team received updated coroner death data, covering 2022 through August 2023, from Calcasieu Parish, Jefferson Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish. Analyzing this data, the team created informative bulletins for law enforcement and public health agencies. Following the success of the coroner outreach project, the LA DIO has been asked to provide training to other DIOs within the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area in 2024. The training will be a way for the LA ORS team to discuss the future direction of their bulletins, as well as provide tips for successful outreach and enhanced data analysis and visualization.


In Idaho, a decentralized county coroner system and challenges with timely toxicology testing has contributed to historically underreported fatal drug overdoses. Since mid-2022, the ID ORS team has worked with Idaho State Police Forensics Services (ISPFS), Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Drug Overdose Prevention Program (DOPP) and a former coroner to improve the quality and timeliness of postmortem toxicology testing and data collection for fatal overdoses in the state. The team pursued two main objectives: first, providing funding to ISPFS to acquire a rapid toxicology instrument that rapidly screens blood and urine samples for prescription and synthetic drugs, and second, conducting in-person trainings with each of Idaho’s 44 county coroners. In these trainings led by a long-serving former Idaho coroner, coroners learn how to perform overdose death investigations, submit samples to the ISPFS lab and input testing results to ODMAP. The new instrument was delivered to the ISPFS state lab in June 2023. The ID ORS team continues to support this project by attending monthly meetings with the project partners and assisting coroner’s offices with ODMAP.