Utah’s Death Investigation Backlog Impacts Insurance Payouts

December 1, 2016

Utah state medical examiners have an autopsy caseload that’s twice the recommended maximum, but the state still has a months-long delay in death investigations that’s affecting homicide investigations, insurance payouts and organ donations.

The Standard-Examiner reported that Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Erik Christensen that despite exceeding the recommended annual maximum workload of 325 death cases per pathologist, his office still has a massive backlog.

Christensen says Utah’s high population growth rate combined with a high rate of suicide and drug overdose deaths make it nearly impossible to keep up with death investigations at his current staffing levels.

death-sceneThis year the Utah Legislature increased the office’s budget by 25 percent, funding more pathologists and bringing the staff up to eight but Christensen says it’s still not enough.

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