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Resource ID: #17801
Subject: Medical Examiners
Source: Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)
Affiliation: 
Date: February 11-14

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Description

A six-month Charlotte Observer investigation found that North Carolina's system for investigating death is fraught with problems. "Medical examiners have failed to detect at least five homicides from 1993 to 1998, including three in which they had to dig up the bodies to perform autopsies. And errors and oversights have jeopardized hundreds more death investigations in those years." Among the reasons for these oversights and errors: busy doctors rarely visit the scenes of suspicious deaths; N.C. does not require specific training in death investigation for the people authorized to do them; some medical examiners seldom order autopsies when they should; when autopsies are performed, the wrong doctors (e.g. gynecologists) are often doing them. This four-day series utilized databases of more than 395,000 death records in North Carolina and 225,000 death records in South Carolina from 1993 to 1998, and 50,000 computer records from the officer of N.C. medical examiner. Reporters also reviewed 600 N.C. death certificates and dozens of autopsy reports by hand.

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