State Audit Findings

Coroners don't report suicides as required

by Walter C. Jones, Morris News Service

ATLANTA — County coroners across Georgia aren’t reporting suicides and all suspicious deaths to the State Medical Examiner’s Office as required by law, according to a recent state audit.

It also found that the office isn’t meeting its own target of issuing timely autopsy reports.

The Department of Audits and Accounts released its report Wednesday as an update on an audit done in 2010. It noted that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which runs the Medical Examiner’s Office, had complied with most of the 2010 recommendations.

Auditors noted in 2010 that the local officials were glossing over certain deaths and recommended strengthening the law to require the reporting of all deaths to the state.

“GBI acknowledges that such cases may not be reported as required; however, they have not taken action to address the issue,” the latest audit notes.

In a letter to the auditor obtained by Morris News, GBI Director Vernon Keenan explained why his agency hasn’t asked the governor for permission to seek a stronger reporting law.

“To date, the more pressing needs of the GBI have supplanted the exploration of changes to the Georgia Death Investigation Act,” he wrote.

Keenan acknowledged that the state did not get 90 percent of its autopsy reports issued within its own 90-day target, but he said the hiring of an additional medical examiner is reducing the backlog.

The state’s three medical labs handle nearly 5,000 autopsies each year, and half involve tests for alcohol or illegal drugs which add to the delays. Local medical examiners in 65 communities handle the rest.

County coroners recommend physicians to the state’s chief medical examiner who makes the formal appointment of the local medical examiners.

The auditors noted that many had no background in forensic pathology as required for county, regional and state examiners.

“Our report found that there were physicians trained in other medical fields, including family and internal medicine, geriatrics, and orthopedics that are serving as local medical examiners,” the auditors wrote.

But Keenan replied that there aren’t enough pathologists in Georgia to make it a requirement.

“Further, it is the opinion of the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office that such training is not necessary,” he wrote.



More Local

Coweta school bus routes now online

The Coweta County School System has finalized its bus routes for next week’s start of the 2014-15 school year Wednesday, Aug. 6. A lis ... Read More


UPDATE

Tonight's 'Screen on the Green' postponed

UPDATE: Tonight's Screen on the Green First Friday Event has been postponed, and rescheduled for Friday October 3rd. It is the interest of M ... Read More


Senoia police warn of new round of phone scams

The Senoia Police Department is warning of three separate scams that Senoia residents have recently fallen victim to. Two of these scams are ... Read More


Niagara bottling holds job recruitment

A line of applicants wrapped around the hallways inside the West Georgia Technical College Coweta Campus Thursday as Niagara Bottling held a ... Read More


Tax-free shopping until midnight Saturday

Georgia’s annual sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping runs today and Saturday. Clothes, school supplies and computers, within ... Read More

State Superintendent Race

Coweta vote totals the same in recount

By Celia Shortt celia@newnan.com Coweta County’s numbers for the recount in the Republican runoff election for state school superinten ... Read More