Maryland

Drug Deaths and Murders Strain Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office

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The Maryland medical examiner’s office is facing an increasing workload from opioid deaths and murders. But it's also scrambling to fill staff vacancies that include the recent departure of the state's longtime and well-regarded chief medical examiner.

The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that the office's workload already surpasses national quality standards. The office is also at risk of losing its accreditation.

The agency is officially called the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. It investigates about a third of all deaths in the state. The office needs to hire four more examiners.

The office is part of the state Department of Health. It says it has raised pay to recruit more staff.

Data obtained by The Sun show that 5,787 autopsies were performed last year. That’s a 50 percent increase from 2012.

The number of active pathologists has been on the decline for years. And officials say the shortage is likely to get worse.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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