Media Storm Over Autopsy Protocol - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/1/03

Media Storm Over Autopsy Protocol

The headline read "Stolen Implants." Lubbock County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jerry Spencer, under the bright glare of the media spotlight.

"I think a lot of it is being blown out of proportion," said Dr. Dale Dunn, Chairman of Pathology. He's quick to scuttle the controversy, saying the issue wasn't whether breast implants and an IUD from an autopsy were stolen, but how the items were stored. "They were in his office. In a box in a container," said Dunn.

Dr. Spencer's colleague, Dr. Sridha Natarajan, complained to superiors. "He felt that retaining the items in the office was inappropriate," said Dunn.

But why did Spencer have them at all? "He indicated that he had kept them for purposes of teaching and demonstration," said Dunn. The Health Sciences Center and UMC are teaching facilities, and as such, according to Dr. Dunn, it's not unusual to retain items from autopsies for instructional purposes. Pacemakers, stents, and in this case, according to Dr. Spencer, breast implants and an IUD.

Dr. Spencer was unavailable for comment. No disciplinary actions have been taken against him. He's expected to be back at work Thursday, where Dr. Dunn will have a conversation where he delineates between what's appropriate and inappropriate when it comes to retaining items.

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