Medical Examiner's Office backlogged by 427 cases - FOX34 Lubbock

Medical Examiner's Office backlogged by 427 cases

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The Medical Examiner's Office reports it is behind 427 cases which date back years.

As a result families are not receiving official death certificates and it has prompted the new Chief Medical Examiner to apologize.

"I mean the Commissioners Court is responsible," said Lubbock Co. Commissioner Bill McCay. "It's unsettling to have 427, we've, ok then 150 some number of those are not unnormal. They can still be open so just doing the math, we would like, the commissioners court would want the public to get them all done in two to three months so anything beyond that would be unsettling."

Dr. Sam Andrews, the new Chief ME, said all of these reports have been started however none of them has been completed. He said that far exceeds the time requirements of an accredited ME's office.

"What type of exam was performed on the deceased I can't, I haven't gotten into those specifics of the cases," Dr. Andrews said. "I can only speak about that they haven't been finished."

The backlog is from before Dr. Andrews time at the ME's office. Dr. Sridhar Natarajan was the previous chief.

"I don't know the policies and procedures that were used in this office prior to my appointment and arrival here," he said.

Commissioner McCay said to prevent this from happening again there must be greater oversight.

"The contract that we have with NAAG, with Dr. Matshes and his organization that there will be a great deal of communication about open cases and the closure of these cases as we work through that," McCay said. "I mean it's a critical issue so we know that it will be a part of communication that will be on going to understand where are we today, where are we this week to get a better understanding of getting these cases closed."

Dr. Evan Matshes, an administrator with the National Autopsy Assay Group, the contractors that run the ME's office. He said he and Dr. Andrews are working to achieve accreditation and have the office meet national standards.

"That accreditation process demonstrates an ongoing commitment and capacity to close 90 percent of cases within 60 days and then 90 percent of the remaining within 90," Dr. Matshes said.

As far as the backlog, Dr. Andrews said those with priority will be completed as soon as possible. If you have an issue with receiving a death certificate, he urges you to call the office.

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