Medical Examiner report: Initial backlog complete, NAAG backlog remains

Updated: Dec. 9, 2019 at 10:50 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - During the Lubbock County Commissioner’s meeting on Monday morning, the Chief Administrative Medical Examiner Dr. John Lang gave a report on the state of the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The first item on the report says National Autopsy Assay Group (NAAG) has not sent autopsy reports back to Lubbock County.

In October, Lubbock County reached a deal with NAAG.

“We are pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement in principle with Lubbock County concerning the final disposition of 172 open cases at the medical examiner’s office,” NAAG officials said in a statement sent in October.

The report Monday says the Lubbock County District Attorney’s Office is speaking with the attorney representing NAAG, and a letter of understanding is being created that will facilitate the return of the autopsy reports and specimens.

Dr. Lang says he has been in communication with some of the families affected by the delay and is keeping them updated. He says there are 192 charts to complete.

The second item on the report says the more than 200 charts that were not completed pre-NAAG, which is when Dr. Sridhar Natarajan was the chief medical examiner. Lang says he has reviewed each chart for their content and completeness.

As of Tuesday, Nov. 26, he says all of those charts have been completed.

Another item on the report says Lang, the Lubbock County Medical Examiner Office manager and the death investigator visited several funeral directors in early November.

“All of the funeral home directors stated that our service is better and quicker than before, and they are having the decedents returned to them quicker and in better condition,” Lang reported. “They stated that the cremation requests and death certificates are being completed much quicker as well, which makes their job easier."

There have been 73 decedents sent to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy since Oct. 1, according to the report. Of those 73, there are 54 open autopsy reports pending completion by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“In summary, we have made a lot of progress since Oct. 1, 2019,” said Dr. Lang in the report. “We have come a long way to restoring the trust of the Citizens of Lubbock County, but still have a long way to go. The staff has been excellent, and continue to work hard and accept more responsibility to make the department work as efficiently as possible. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with them, and I am very excited for the future.”

NAAG gave this statement to KCBD regarding the remaining cases: “NAAG has agreed to a plan to resolve the 172 outstanding cases and is waiting for a written agreement with the county to proceed. The ball is in the county’s court.”

More on the investigation into the Medical Examiner’s Office.

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