OK Medical Examiner's Office Dealing With Major Backlog
OKLAHOMA CITY - News 9 has learned the State Medical Examiner's Office has a big backlog. As of Wednesday afternoon, that backlog is up to 502 cases. It's a situation that's become considerably worse since a pathologist was fired late last month.
Right now at the M.E.'s office, five pathologists are doing the work of 14.
"I have one physician that has 2,000 hours of comp time. I have another physician that hasn't had a day off in a month," said Amy Elliott, Chief Administrative Officer of the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's office.
The M.E.'s office was already down doctors. Then, late last month, Dr. Andrew Sibley was fired from the Tulsa office, leaving an unexpected backlog of cases. Other doctors have had to pick up the extra workload including those in the Oklahoma City office. On any given day, two to eight bodies are transported from Tulsa down to Oklahoma City.
"It's putting undue stress on the employees here," said Elliott. "On the Tulsa employees it's extra work and extra cost. But it's what we're doing to ensure the citizens of Oklahoma get the services they deserve."
The Oklahoma legislature has approved additional funds to hire more pathologists, but with only 400 to 500 hundred pathologists out there, Elliott says getting them to come to Oklahoma is difficult. The pay is good, but the working conditions aren't.
"Once I can get doctors interested in coming to interview with us, they see the conditions of our building and that usually changes their decision."
Elliott says she has three pathologists coming to interview at the end of this month. She stresses that the autopsies are still getting done at the same rate, it's just putting a lot of stress on the staff.
So far this year the medical examiner's office has completed more than 21,000 autopsies.