Johnson City Press Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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ETSU asking counties to pay more for autopsies

April 9th, 2014 10:27 am by Staff Report

ETSU asking counties to pay more for autopsies

Eight Northeast Tennessee counties are facing higher costs for autopsies and forensic services from East Tennessee State University's James H. Quillen College of Medicine to help pay for more staff now required by state regulations.

ETSU Dean of Medicine Robert Means said a recent regulation mandating that death scene investigations be coordinated with forensic centers means a certified death investigator and, in some cases, forensic pathologists, must be available at all times to consult with authorities at death scenes before an autopsy can be ordered.

Means said the two full-time and one part-time pathologists and a certified death investigator currently budgeted at Quillen's William L. Jenkins Forensic Center are not enough to meet the demands of the new regulations and new accreditation standards adopted by the National Association of Medical Examiners, through which all Tennessee autopsy providers must be accredited.

According to a press release from ETSU, the new fee structure is based on a per capita charge being endorsed by the U.S. Department of Justice, a national standard.

Now, the eight counties served by the forensic center each pays ETSU an annual rate for the forensic services that is based on the number of autopsies the county ordered in the past five years.

According to the school's figures, the center performed 398 autopsies last year for the counties of Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington.

Means says ETSU has already met with county mayors and other officials to discuss the new proposed funding structure.

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