Inside The Morgue: How Medical Examiners Are Dealing With Opioid Death ‘Tsunami’


MILWAUKEE’S MORGUE FOR TONIGHT’S STATE OF ADDICTION REPORT. COLLEEN HENRY GOES WHERE THE OPIOID CRISIS ENDS FOR MANY PEOPLE.>>THE MILWAUKEE COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER HAS GIVEN 12 NEWS UNIQUE ACCESS HERE IN THE MORGUE. THEY’RE DOING IT TO HELP TELL A STORY THEY DESPERATELY WANT TO SHARE. UNFORTUNATE EVENTS CERTAINLY LED EACH OF THESE PEOPLE TO THIS COLD, DARK PLACE, BUT THE DEATH TOLL IS SO STARK AND SO PERSONAL FOR THE INVESTIGATORS, THEY’VE EXPANDED THEIR MISSION OF TENDING THE DEAD TO FIGHTING FOR THE LIVING.>>YOU TAKE TWO AND THREE. WHY DON’T YOU GO THERE?>>IT IS MONDAY MORNING, RUSH IN HOUR THE AUTOPSY SUITE AT THE MILWAUKEE COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER’S OFFICE.>>CAN YOU TAKE ZERO ROOM? ANNOUNCER WE HAD SIX CASES, AND THREE OF THEM ARE OVERDOSES, AND THAT’S COMMON.>>MORNING REPORT IS A TEXTBOOK LOOK INSIDE THE LIFE OF AN ADDICT.>>HE BEGAN HEROIN USE AT 17 AND HAS HAD A PAST OVERDOSE. A TOURNIQUET WAS NOTED ON THE ARM OF THE CHAIR AND SEVERAL VIALS OF NARCAN ALONG WITH A BAG OF ONE CC SYRINGES. THE DAY PRIOR HE WAS SEEN AT AURORA SINAI FOR A HEROIN OVERDOSE.>>WE’RE NOT SO MUCH THE FRONT LINE. WE’RE THE BACK LINE, BUT THEY ALL COME THROUGH HERE.>>DR. BRIAN PETERSON TOOK OVER THE ME’S OFFICE IN 2010 IN THAT TIME, OVERDOSE DEATHS HAVE MORE THAN DOUBLED.>>THE TRAJECTORY HAS SIMPLY BEEN UPWARDS.>>IN 2010, WHEN PETERSON TOOK OVER HERE 123 PEOPLE DIED OF NARCOTICS OVERDOSES. BY 2016 THAT HAD JUMPED TO 282. TOTAL DRUG DEATHS IN 2010 149, IN 2016 338. WOULD YOU CALL IT A CRISIS?>>I’VE BEEN CALLING IT A TSUNAMI 50 BECAUSE OFFICES LIKE MINE ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE BEING CONSUMED BY IT. PETERSON SAYS A FEW YEARS BACK, PRICY OXYCODONE WAS THE BIG KILLER.>>THEN ADDICTS OPTED FOR THE CHEAPER HEROIN. NOW HE’S SEEING A SPIKE IN SUPER-CHEAP AND SUPER-DEAD FENTANYL, WHICH USERS MAY NOT EVEN KNOW THEY’RE BUYING.>>THE PERSON ON THE STREET THINKS HE OR SHE THINKS HE IS BUYING OXYCODONE AND IT’S ACTUALLY FENTANYL AND THEN THEY JUST DIE.>>IN THE LAST YEAR HEROIN , DEATHS ARE UP 31% FENTANYL , DEATHS 213%. AND WHILE THE ME’S PATIENTS ARE DEAD STAFF HERE FIGHT FOR THE , LIVING. IN THE TOXICOLOGY LABS THEY , SCREEN PATIENT FLUIDS TO QUICKLY IDENTIFY THE DRUGS THAT KILL. THIS INFORMATION GIVES YOU AN IDEA OF WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE STREET?>>WHAT DRUGS ARE AVAILABLE, WHAT ARE THE CONCENTRATIONS, WHAT’S BEING USED, JUST TO GAIN THE BROADER PICTURE.>>AND WHEN THEY SPOT DANGEROUS TRENDS THE ME’S OFFICE MANAGER , FLOODS SOCIAL MEDIA WITH WARNINGS. IT FELT LIKE IT WAS YOUR OFFICE THAT WAS GONGING THE BELL.>>WE’RE ON THE FRONT LINE OF WHAT’S BEING DONE, OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE DYING OUT. WE SEE IT EVERY DAY SO WE LIKE , TO GET THAT INFORMATION OUT TO THE PUBLIC AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. MAYBE PREVENT A FEW DEATHS IF WE CAN.>>MILWAUKEE’S ME SAYS THIS IS A CRITICAL TIME FOR OPIOID DEATHS TOO MANY BODIES, TOO FEW , RESOURCES.>>WHAT WE’RE SEEING IS INCREASED NUMBER OF PATIENTS, INCREASED NUMBER OF TESTS PER PATIENT AND INCREASED COMPLEXITY , OF THE TESTS BECAUSE OF THESE ODD DRUGS COMING IN FROM OVERSEAS. IT’S JUST GETTING WORSE AND WORSE YEAR-BY-YEAR. I THINK THERE’S NO END IN SIGHT, FRANKLY.>>AND PETERSON SAYS THE OPIATE PROBLEM GOES FAR BEYOND THE OVERDOSES. ASKS ALMOST EVERY HOMICIDE HAS A COMPONENT OF HOMICIDE IN IT, RIGHT?>>OR YOU MIGHT SAY THE HOMICIDES HAVE A COMPONENT OF OVERDOSE. THESE AREN’T GUN DEATHS. THESE ARE DRUG DEPTHS. — DRUG DEATHS. YOU HAVE TO GET A HANDLE ON THE DRUG PROBLEM TO GET A HANDLE ON THE HOMICIDE PROBLEM.>>AND THE DRUG DEATHS KEEP COMING.>>IT IS NEARLY A DAILY OCCASION.>>SO THE ME’S OFFICE KEEPS PUSHING ITS MESSAGE ON TV, SOCIAL MEDIA AND TO THE ADDICTS THEMSELVES.>>TO THE AVERAGE USER WHAT I WANT TO SAY IS KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND YOU’RE GOING TO COME HERE.>>SO 338 OVERDOSES LAST YEAR AND COUNTING. THEY’RE STILL TALLYING TOXICOLOGY RESULTS. AND THIS YEAR, THERE WERE EIGHT OVERDOSES JUST LAST WEEKEND.

100 thoughts on “Inside The Morgue: How Medical Examiners Are Dealing With Opioid Death ‘Tsunami’

  1. 16,000 per year from Opiates. 480,000 last year from tobacco. These are real numbers. NO other drug kills as many Americans as tobacco.

  2. I've been in a morgue, it really doesn't smell bad, just as long as there are no bloated bodies.

  3. Let me say this..being both a Hamilton County Bail Agent/Fugitive Recovery Agent…AND an Opioid Addiction Counselor. Opioid overdoses are, 100%, due to addicts getting Street Opioids…per Heroin..much cheaper than your typical legal Opioid pain meds per Dilaudid, Oxycontin, etc…and not being of a specific grade quality or strength, especially with the Fentanyl Citrate being added in, or WHATEVER other synthetics they can get their hands on…the overdoses will continue. I specialize in Bonding out opioid addicts and getting them into a minimum 30 day detox program, some extending much longer. Opioids take ALOT longer to clear from our systems than originally thought…mainly due to the length of usage. I myself go to pain management during the winter months MAINLY…due to a 29 fracture, 4 total joint replacement accident I barely survived on Oct. 25th, 2001. 3 months in a hospital, Coma, having to learn to walk again, severe closed head injury, etc…and during the winter, I suffer severe Chronic pain due to all the titanium and plastic in me (30 lbs.), neuropathy due to all the incisions and cutting through of muscles while having implants and plates put in, 2 chest tubes from multiple broken ribs, broken necks, etc., and ALOT of these kids started by going to one of these pill mills with "Knee pain".. Some didn't even have an X-Ray!! Here in Tennessee…and walked out of Drs. Offices with 180…30mg. Oxycodone tablets…PER MONTH!!! It totally changes brain chemistry…TEMPORARILY…I must say..because every spring, when I wean myself off the Opioids, I feel things popping back on within 7-14 days….including sexual desires…at 51, with no aids if little blue assistance pills either. I'm extremely good at recognizing whether someone's serious or just saying what THEY think I want to hear, which is easy to detect. People have REALLY got to want to get off the Opioids that CANNOT handle them correctly. For those…I see nothing but some sort of reward system being set up as reasoning to help them get off the Opioids. A lot of them just tell me they NEVER intend to get off them. And I'm talking about people without ANY chronic pain in which they should have been taking them initially. For them…sheer abstinence is the answer, and if it be by lock up…so be it. I know THIS…they'll thank you in the end!! But they need Psychiatric Counsel during the entire stay, because they will be going through some intense Psychological changes during the detox stages and 2nd phases of withdrawals too. I strongly urge that cold turkey NOT be used…but Subutex or Methadone initially, with some form of depression meds, to help with the irritability, insomnia and such. Brain WILL be going haywire…THIS I know..but the best thing after a couple of weeks of detox is TIME in abstinence. Gotta put distance and time in between for success!!

  4. Who else is gonna do everything to avoid landing in the morgue? I'm gonna do everything to avoid getting here but i know the harder i try the quicker i might mess up and something simple like slipping on ice can kill me

    Healthy, no drugs, workout everyday one hour, eat natural free of cancer causing chemicals in my food, cover my nose mouth when handling dangerous chemicals. look both ways before crossing the street, check my mirrors and look over my shoulder before changing lanes driving, give distance to cars in front of me, avoid other stupid drivers blindspot but the harder u try the quicker u die

  5. glad to be off the junk and on methadone for now. lost a lot of friends up here in toronto this year.

  6. you're mixing in the heroin doses with the opiate overdoses here making it look like the opiate overdoses are more when it's a heroin overdoses and you don't see the problem you retards quit trying to f**** mix the heroin overdoses in with the opioids

  7. Capitol Hill lost the war on marijuana don't know how to fight the war on heroin and are clueless on opioid use that's how retarded they are

  8. The holy Scriptures says that the Devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Must be an understatement. I pray that something will and can be done about this epidemic that's taking so many of our young ones away. They're not only losing their physical lives but their souls as well.

  9. Yep, my sister died of what she thought was heroin, but was actually fentanyl not even 4 months ago. It is heart breaking that more people have died of this same thing even since my own sisters death.

  10. i could be trained into this job & recognize importance of autopsy

    (+ i am uniquely qualified due to ANOSMIA)

  11. both legal & illegal drugs/meds can injure oppress kill you

    NO forced drugging

    NO humiliating torturing falsely-accusing unjustly-punishing oppressing murdering of PEOPLE! !

    we must lead govern represent OURSELVES!

  12. Hey, listen. Every single one of us are going through this place. No matter what you are doing. Good or bad the disease of life is terminal.

  13. dead is dead we all do it sooner or later.no pain .only for the living as we know it.

  14. Stop making it seem like everybody is doing this nobody that I know has even heard about this so stop it ,stop trying to scare everybody

  15. Kratom might of saved those lives. DEA pay attention,Don't blame Kratom anymore. It saves lives by making life off opioids more manageable. And it an herbal supplement,not a drug.

  16. CDC has no recorded deaths from cannabis use alone by itself since they opened their doors. The draconian laws, politicians & so-called professionals kill people. Remember doctors telling us smoking cigarettes was fashionable, for women they were torches of freedom.

  17. WHO SHOULD WE BLAME AMERICA..?….MEXICANS…..YEAH LET'S BLAME THE ILLEGALS FOR THE BAD CHOICES THEY DID…

  18. I believe that they said street drugs? The drs ain’t at fault ! It’s coming out of other country’s.

  19. Heart disease kills twenty times as many people compared to opiate related deaths. Cigarette related deaths are over 12 times as much as opiate related deaths.

  20. Alot of white white bodies going through that morgue, Sad! I guess maybe bad bad KARMA.

  21. That what addiction does…….you can recover or die. Only other choice is to not start.

  22. "drugs coming from over seas">> WTF are You talking about?!?!?! Did they make and traffic fentalyn? how about oxycodone?? fucktards dont know what they are talking about..

  23. This is terrible. It's a shame people feel they need to do this to feel good. It can kill.

  24. I blame the government. People have to go through Big Pharma to get these drugs. This is sad.

  25. this is great the more the better give them 100% smack & get rid of them- if you take drugs you deserve to DIE!

  26. In my country some fake intellectual demanding to legalize those narcotics product.Saying Its freedom of doing anything

  27. I wanna work at a morgue ?
    Because in my favourite shows it’s a bout a morgue

  28. I really like to work in this place,mortuary! are they have qualification to work there! ,or which collage to study this!

  29. lmao how is this reporter able to casually walk into this body freezer hahahha wow

  30. I have heard people say so many times if you drop dead
    Fact is if you do they have to try find out why.

  31. Drag the stubborn ones to the morgue and force them to see what goes on there.
    It is not a video game they can reset.
    It is a dead end.

  32. We are all gonna end up there anyway…drug overdose or not.

  33. I salute these guys who work there. I job the majority of us don’t want from fear

  34. People are dying of overdoses due to chemical warfare. I am a victim of it who was supposed to die but i did not die. The chemical made me suicidle trying everything to kill myself but fighting not to kill myself also because i have kids. I would never do this. It was a pedophile pimp who gave me the speed like drug. He also spiked me with embalming fluid from the morgue his dad worked in. He was free to come and go into the morgue whenever he wanted the pimp pedophile……. murderer. He still walks free even though i told Police. They had no proof. There is a pedophile ring going on around this field. God help us innocent victims of many that i know of. Most people have actually commited suicide due to being spiked and it is put down as overdose or suicide! Nothing else is said. If you don't take part in their sick lives this is what you get. Death. Women. Men and Kids.

  35. It’s mostly white people that’s why they care and that’s wrong… blacks get arrested and prison time for addictions …whites get council and treatment… I hate to see anyone lose their life senselessly but truth is truth

  36. I couldn't work in the morgue, I am afraid of the dead, I won't look at abdead person close up because that image would stay with me and hunt me, I am 52 and yes feel the same way as I just discribed.

  37. Opioids are not the problem the real problem is that too many people have addictive personalities. And they are the problem. And that is what should be discussed.

  38. RIP Jennifer. You were a good girl who never had a chance. I love you baby.

  39. There must be a way to better regulate this. It makes it so difficult for people like me who have severe chronic pain and really need the stronger meds. Some doctors think everyone who NEEDS pain meds are addicted and abuse them. Thank goodness I found an awesome, reliable pain clinic that actually listens to me. I'm also randomly drug tested which not only tests for any drugs, but also checks for the level of my pain meds. This let's them know if a person is taking too much.
    The laws r changing, and I hope it prevents a lot of deaths.

  40. imagine your dead body being famous since the news lady is right next to it

  41. Dave Chappelle said when the crack epidemic was going on "they shouldn't of picked it up" same goes for opioids. Not fair for the ones dealing with chronic pain and we have to jump through loops to get medicines

  42. I know this is their job, but this work seems still pretty moving to do, especially with the younger people coming in

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