Local News

Aug 27, 2013 5:08 PM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

Nueces Co. Medical Examiner Overwhelmed with Cases

CORPUS CHRISTI - The Nueces County Medical Examiners Office needs help to handle an overflow of cases that could threaten the facilities' accreditation.

And while there's no state law that requires a medical examiners office to be accredited, an office that's not accredited could make more mistakes, by not meeting industry standards.

For instance, the National Association of Medical Examiners demands a single medical examiner perform at least 250 autopsies a year, but no more than 325.

Nueces has already surpassed 250 and at this rate, will finish the year well over 325.

An overworked office can lead to mistakes. Mistakes can lead to wrongful verdicts and endless appeals in cases. And appeals can cost you taxpayer dollars.

And there are fourteen other counties who rely on Nueces County to examine their dead.

Dr. Ray Fernandez wants his office to be ready for their inspection in January, but if it were to happen today, they wouldn't be ready.

"You risk failing inspection if you don't have adequate staff to handle the workload," he says.

And right now, they don't. They have part timers who help, but they can't guarantee when exactly they are available.

Dr. Fernandez is asking the County Commissioners Court to give him at least an extra $190,000 in this year's budget to hire a deputy medical examiner to assist with the load, and help the office pass inspection.

Some county officials tell us there's just no money to do it, but Dr. Fernandez is hopeful they'll get it.

"I think it's a process we'll have to work through. I'm not sure exactly at what point we'll end up having the total amount of funding, but it's a process we'll have to work through," he says.

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