New Lubbock County medical examiner ready to reform office

New Lubbock County medical examiner ready to reform office

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Dr. John Lang Dr. John Lang

He has been on the job less than a month, but the new interim chief medical examiner said he is ready to tackle some of the long standing issues surrounding the office, and a new county deal with the last ME is intended to help.

Dr. John Lang was appointed the new acting chief medical examiner earlier this month. He has worked in several areas across the state. Some of his first challenges in his new role are two separate backlogs.

"The first most recent backlog was from the previous entity that was here, and that actually is going to be addressed," Lang said. "We had a discussion with the previous entity and the District Attorney...They are going to process all the reports as soon as possible in a timely fashion, and as soon as I get that information, I will start completing the death certificates as soon as possible."

That agreement is with NAAG Pathology Labs in San Diego. That company was in charge of the ME's office for a year.

"The agreement we came to today was to allow us to now go to California, get those packed up and get those shipped back to Lubbock, so that we can complete those autopsy reports," Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said.

The first backlog consists primarily of cases from this year. While these cases are the priority, Dr. Lang said he will continue working on the second backlog as well, which dates back a few years.

With Tarrant County handling all pathology services, Dr. Lang said that is the best deal for families.

"They usually get us preliminary reports within about 24 to 48 hours, and a final report within two to three weeks," Lang said. "It's really quality service. Yes, they're leaving the county, but I promise you, they are getting the best care possible."

Lang also wants to provide more transparency to families, he said, and provide death certificates in under 30 days.

"When you don't have a death certificate available to the family, everything stops," Lang said. "It's an official document, people can't get social security benefits, people can't close bank accounts. Their whole life stops and it's an open wound for the family ... so when I mean transparency, I want them to know and believe that I'm doing everything I can for them to get this taken care of."

Lang said he wants to personally ask for the forgiveness of citizens for the problems of the past, and said he and the staff are dedicated to bettering the office and providing the best service for families moving forward.

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