BOSTON – Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today, August 11, released an audit of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).
The audit found that Medical Examiner’s Office did not monitor completion of toxicology examinations or complete autopsy reports and death certificates in a timely fashion.
These deficiencies could result in delays in families receiving life insurance payments, adversely impact families who need final death certificates and autopsy reports for probate matters, and threaten Medical Examiner’s Office’s national accreditation.
Accreditation standards set by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) require toxicology examinations and autopsy reports to be completed within 90-days. NAME also determined that the same time period was appropriate for completion of death certificates. However, Bump’s audit found that 28 percent of toxicology examinations, 58 percent of autopsy reports, and 32 percent of death certificates did not meet this timeframe.
“The death of a loved one is incredibly taxing on a person’s friends and family,” Bump said of the audit. “The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner should do everything it can to ensure it is not exacerbating the difficulties facing these individuals. I’m encouraged that the office recognizes the importance of efficiently completing its work and is taking steps to address the issues identified in our audit.”
In the audit, Bump calls on the Medical Examiner’s Office to improve its processes in order to ensure these reports and examinations are completed within mandated timeframes. Medical Examiner’s Office indicated that it has taken steps to address this deficiency.
The audit also found deficiencies related to the billing, deposits, and reconciliation of cremation view fees. Additionally, Bump’s office noted Medical Examiner’s Office needs to improve its internal control plan. Finally, the audit noted problems related to documentation and inventory at Medical Examiner’s Office.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is a state agency within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The Office’s mission is to investigate the cause and manner of death in incidents resulting from violence or other unnatural cause, or of a natural cause that the Chief Medical Examiner believes needs further investigation.