MC Coroner seeks outside laboratory to help local families get d - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

MC Coroner seeks outside laboratory to help local families get death reports sooner

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation reports in June 2013, it decreased the crime lab backlogs by more than half. 

As of May 2014, they were backlogged by about 4,000 forensic cases. Officials claim it was through increased staff and policy changes they were able to get cases completed faster.

"We do the autopsies for 151 of the 159 counties," GBI Director Vernon Keenan said.

Director Keenan claimed over 3,000 autopsies are conducted at GBI headquarters in Atlanta every year. 

Keenan said the vast majority of autopsies are completed within 90 days.

"The medical examiners or the crime laboratory will be blamed by a local agency or the coroner or prosecutor-- about delays in the case saying that there is a backlog in the crime laboratory or that it takes six months to get an autopsy report-- we hear that frequently from coroners. Statistically that is not the case," Keenan said.

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan says although the department boasts decreased backlog numbers, locally families are waiting in excess of 6 six months for final death reports. 

To help get local families answers quicker, Bryan said he contacted an independent laboratory to perform toxicology and other test. 

Bryan said the test would costs a family about $125 and instead of waiting six months the wait time will decrease dramatically to a few days. 

Keenan does admit more complicated cases can take longer.

"Occasionally when there is a complicated death case, it will take several months to get all the work done. It's not the autopsy itself, we're waiting on toxicology, histology, and other reports to come back in."

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