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Medical Examiner's Office Feeling the Overwork

Medical Examiner's Office Feeling the Overwork

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioThe state's medical examiner says they have so much work, it's becoming overwhelming. But, he says they don't have the resources other cities have to keep up with their work.

Dr. Todd Grey opens the doors to the main storage area where the bodies of deceased people wait to be taken to funeral homes. Inside, I counted 11 bodies.

"Yeah, that's a light day," says Grey.

Doctor Todd Grey says the Medical Examiner's Office handles about more than 2,000 bodies every year, which adds up to just over seven cases every business day, and they only have four doctors to do all this work. He says his office is being stretched to the breaking point.

"The Medical Examiner's Office in Utah does not have the level of funding that a lot of offices around the nation have," says Grey.

Grey says because of this lack of funding, they don't have a lot of things commonly found in other offices.

"We don't have anyone who's specifically trained in forensic photography and who is able to handle all of the requests for pictures and those kinds of things," he says.

Grey says they also don't have someone to properly monitor doctor's findings, and that leads to other problems. "We're probably missing a lot of really interesting correlations about how people are dying in Utah that may have potential for prevention," he says.

The lack of resources can slow down the process and make families wait longer to find out how their loved ones died. Grey says this typically is the most agonizing part. However, other state agencies need money, too.

"The budget itself is really a delicate balance of all the state needs," says Governor's Communications Director Lisa Roskelley. She says even in times of surplus, there just might not be enough money to give all agencies what they're asking for.

"In times of plenty, everybody wants more than plenty," she says.

Roskelley says funding the Department of Health is a high priority of the governor but that money is typically meant for something other that the medical examiner.

"With health care, the governor's focus really is that, especially children are receiving health care, and that small businesses and underinsured people are receiving health care," she says.

Officials from the medical examiner's office say law agencies are pleased with the work that's done there. Some people say that could stop the department from getting extra funding.

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