Lubbock County Commissioners to expand Medical Examiner search to physicians

KCBD Newschannel 11 at 10 Medical examiner search 8/26/2019

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock County Commissioners hosted an open work session Monday afternoon with one item on the agenda: the search for a new medical examiner.

After accusations and lawsuits, Lubbock County’s contracted medical examiner, National Autopsy Assay Group or NAAG, announced it would not renew its contract with the County on Oct. 1.

The court has considered multiple options for this position, such as hiring a new medical examiner to run the department, hiring a physician as an administrator to contract some of the services or hiring another medical examiner company.

At Monday’s meeting, they made their decision.

“The decision that we made is to go forward with hiring a medical examiner who is a doctor, not a forensic pathologist, but just a doctor from the community,” Parrish said.

County Judge Curtis Parrish said this person will be the administrator of the Office of the Medical Examiner. He or she will be the medical examiner, but not be a forensic pathologist or someone who can perform an autopsy.

“If we do need autopsy services, we would hire that out either through Tarrant County or bringing in pathologists to actually do our autopsy services here in Lubbock,” Parrish said.

There are a few reasons this option is beneficial.

For one, Parrish said it will be much less expensive to hire a medical doctor, as opposed to a forensic pathologist. Two, Parrish said there are not many forensic pathologists out there.

“There are 43 agencies, 43 communities, counties all over the nation that are looking for forensic pathologists to service as medical examiners,” Parrish said.

Parrish said the solution is to hire a local physician to serve as medical examiner in an administrative role. He said the medical examiner position could be filled by a physician until a forensic pathologist is found, or for the foreseeable future.

“Obviously, we need something in place by Oct. 1. But, if we, six months in, we look at it and this is working for Lubbock County, this could be our long-term solution, Parrish said.

Judge Parrish said there have been three applications submitted for the forensic pathologist medical examiner position. He said the human resources and purchasing department will still examine those.

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