News Releases

Sen. Merritt: Bill for Investigation of Overdose Deaths Passes Senate

STATEHOUSE (Jan. 23, 2018) — A bill authored by State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) that would require county coroners to further investigate suspected overdose deaths passed the Senate today by a vote of 47-2.

If a coroner reasonably suspects a cause of death to be an accidental or intentional overdose of a controlled substance, Senate Bill 139 would require the coroner to obtain information about the deceased from INSPECT, Indiana’s prescription monitoring program. The coroner would also be required to extract and test certain body fluids and provide the Indiana Department of Health (ISDH) with notice of the person’s death, test results and any information about the controlled substances involved.

“Our state is facing an opioid epidemic like we have never witnessed before,” Merritt said. “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 created a case management system to reduce the burden on coroners’ offices. The web-based database will allow timelier reporting and analysis.

SB 139 is included in Gov. Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda to increase the consistency and knowledge about the scale of the drug epidemic in Indiana.

The bill now moves to the Indiana House of Representatives for further consideration.


Contact: Lauren Beatty, Press Secretary