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10th anniversary of the Legal Medicine Department of the Laboratoire national de santé (LNS)

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10th anniversary of the Legal Medicine Department of the Laboratoire national de santé (LNS)
2024 06-17

This year, the Laboratoire national de santé is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Legal Medicine Department (DML).

Already at the time of its foundation in 1897, the LNS was performing forensic medical tasks (autopsies and forensic photography). With the establishment of the Department of Toxicology in 1978, the foundation was laid for a modern institute of forensic medicine. Forensic Genetics followed in 2011, and finally Forensic Medicine was added in 2014, so that in August of the same year, these departments were consolidated into the Department of Legal Medicine (DML) that exists today.

Since summer 2018, the DML has also been offering the umedo service which is aimed at helping adult victims of physical and/or sexual violence who wish to document their case without pressing charges.

The DML, which currently employs 46 staff members, works mainly at the request of the Luxembourgish judicial authorities, but also at the order of the police and other government bodies.

The Department in key figures (for the 2023)

  • 242 forensic examinations were carried out by the Medico-Judicial Service (SMJ), including 141 autopsies.

The main tasks of this service are to carry out forensic autopsies, forensic examinations of corpses and visits to places where corpses have been found. In addition, in the case of preliminary investigations, it carries out clinical examinations on living bodies. It also carries out various forensic examinations and provides forensic training. The Department is part of the Grand Ducal Police’s national Disaster Victim Identification team.

  • More than 3,000 expert assessments have been carried out by the Genetic Identification Service (SIG).

These expert analyses, based on molecular biology tools, provide objective evidence in legal cases, such as the determination of human genetic fingerprints or DNA profiles.

  • More than 6,700 samples were analysed by the Forensic Toxicology Service (TML)

Since 1978, the Forensic Toxicology Service has been the reference laboratory in Luxembourg for the analysis of direct alcohol consumption markers, the monitoring of patients in rehabilitation centers, people involved in cases of driving under the influence of alcohol,  industrial accidents, family litigations and crimes.

  • 22 examinations to establish a medical report of physical and/or sexual violence were carried out within the umedo unit.

The umedo forensic documentation service for victims of physical and/or sexual violence also received 79 telephone calls.                                                                                            

The examination consists of drawing up a medical report of visible injuries and recording biological traces so that the victim has this evidence available in the event of any subsequent legal proceedings:

  • More than 4,300 samples have been analysed by the Analytical Chemistry Service (SCAN).

The main tasks of the department are to identify and dosage of narcotics, as well as to control legal, falsified or counterfeit medicines and other products of unknown origin suspected of containing medicinal or illegal substances.

Participation of the service in the “pipapo” initiative of 4motion a.s.b.l.: since 2016, the “pipapo” initiative has been implementing harm reduction strategies in festive environments, addressing issues related to drugs, sexuality, and overall party culture.Onsite drug checking is a valuable tool for discussing with drug users and creating an awareness of potential dangers when consuming psychotropic substances. The Analytical Chemistry Service, together with 4motion a.s.b.l. and the support from the Ministy of Justice and the Ministry of Health and Social Security, analyses drugs consumed at festivals.

Starting in summer 2024, laboratory analyses will be relocated and carried out directly at festival venues. This will allow obtaining faster results and making contacts and discussions with potential drug users easier; especially if suspected harmful substances are detected.

To mark this 10th anniversary, on 14 and 15 June 2024, the Department of Forensic Medicine has hosted the spring conference of the DGRM (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Rechtsmedizin / German Society of Forensic Medicine) for the first time in Luxembourg, bringing together almost a hundred international participants.


Priv. Doz. Dr. Med. Thorsten Schwark, LNS, Head of the Legal Medicine Department:  “I am delighted that the Department of Legal Medicine has developed so positively over the ten years of its existence,
and that it has become an essential part of Luxembourg’s medical landscape. What makes me particularly happy is the fact that the four services have really grown together over the years, giving rise to a team that functions in harmony both professionally and on a human level”.