What is a Medical Toxicologist?

“What exactly is a medical toxicologist?”  I have been asked this question by physicians and attorneys alike.  The technical answer is that medical toxicology is a subspecialty officially recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.  The American College of Medical Toxicology defines it as the field of medicine dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of poisoned and envenomated patients.  This includes the adverse health effects of medications, occupational and environmental toxins, and biological agents. 

Translating this into the reality of clinical medicine, medical toxicologists are physicians who evaluate and care for patients who are under the influence of drugs or who have been poisoned.  They are trained to evaluate and treat poisonings by any substance, whether it be drugs of abuse such as alcohol, marijuana and fentanyl, or environmental and occupational toxins such as carbon monoxide, cyanide and lead.  This includes interpreting laboratory tests such as drug screens or medication levels and correlating them with clinical manifestations.  Consequently, no other medical specialty bridges the gap between the laboratory test and real-world effects like medical toxicology.  This makes the medical toxicologist the ideal forensic physician for many cases, due to the ubiquitous nature of alcohol and other drugs in many types of legal cases and the need to relate them to clinical effects. 

As one of the leading expert referral services, Vident Partners has multiple board certified medical toxicologists available to consult and testify in cases involving drugs or occupational/environmental/biological toxins.


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