Lubbock County D.A.’s office provides update on investigation into M.E.’s office

Updated: Mar. 20, 2019 at 10:11 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Lubbock County District Attorney issued a news release this morning on the investigation into the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office.

As the investigation into the Medical Examiner’s office continues, the cases will continue to stack up.

“Yeah, there is going to be a bit of a backlog. It will slow down the wheels of justice,” said Philip Wischkaemper, Lubbock Private Defenders’ Office.

The County Commissioners are the ones who hired Chief Medical Examiner Sam Andrews and the company he works for, National Autopsy Assay Group Pathology Labs (NAAG). So if there were to be any changes in management, that would need to come from elected officials.

Dr. Andrews told the county he discovered a backlog of 526 cases through a manual audit. Of those, 458 have been digitized and organized for formal review, 150 cases have been finalized, 53 additional cases are pending administrative review and 16 cases are undergoing additional testing.

The news release issued this morning states:

In January of 2019, the Lubbock County District Attorney’s Office requested that the Texas Rangers begin an investigation into allegations of misconduct regarding the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office. As of today, according to the Texas Rangers, the investigation continues. Once the investigation is complete, the Rangers will turn it over for review to the Office of the Attorney General. As always, we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. Questions regarding the investigation should be directed to the Texas Department of Public Safety. All other questions should be directed to the Attorney General’s office.

The integrity of our cases is of the utmost importance. Although we look forward to this matter being resolved, we patiently await a complete and thorough investigation and review so that justice can be served.

As we first reported in September of last year, Lubbock County commissioners approved a one-year contract with National Autopsy Assay Group (NAAG) Pathology Labs out of San Diego, California. NAAG performs all forensic pathology services and employs the staff, including Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Sam Andrews.

County commissioners said by outsourcing work to this medical organization, it save taxpayers 12 percent or just more than $330,000 in the 2018-2019 budget.

The Texas Medical Board, an oversight agency that has the authority to conduct licensing and disciplinary actions, requested two child autopsy reports from the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office and numerous documents surrounding Andrews.

Those documents include Andrews’ employment application, credentials and documents of special training or certifications, job description, performance evaluations, investigations into patient care issues, other complaint investigations, behavior issues, peer reviews, and any inappropriate staff violations.

MORE: Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office Continuing Coverage

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