America’s opioid epidemic is killing so many people that medical examiners can’t keep up with the body count

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
By Paul Martin

by: JD Heyes
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The numbers of Americans dying from the escalating opioid epidemic are skyrocketing so quickly that local medical examiners now have a backlog of autopsy cases that will stretch into next year.

As reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail, the seemingly uncontrollable rise in opioid addiction is taxing the services of local medical examiners to the point that they are being forced to neglect people who are thought to have died from an overdose by providing only a basic autopsy that reveals just a minimal amount of information about their deaths.

What is worrying to many experts is that the watered-down autopsies also make medical examiners more prone to missing other causes of death while artificially inflating the actual number of opioid deaths, which are already at epidemic levels in some parts of the United States.

There are other ramifications to the quickened, incomplete autopsies. Incorrect calculations of opioid overdose deaths are also likely to affect the way Washington allocates funding and other government resources to battling the crisis. Also, if medical examiners took the required amount of time to examine all suspected overdose victims, they could subject themselves to the loss of their National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) accreditation, which means they would harm their credibility in court cases.

The Daily Mail noted further:

Because of the issue, these offices are having to prioritize the types of cases they are tasked with, predicting that the worst of the opioid crisis has not even come yet.

And more and more they are choosing to focus on homicides rather than opioid overdoses, which have become predictable in recent years as they have overtaken gun violence, car crashes, and HIV as a leading cause of death.

A New Hampshire-based medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Andrew, told the newspaper that he first believed the then-emerging opioid epidemic would become a national crisis towards the end of 2013 after his office examined its first victim of an overdose of a fentanyl-heroin combination.

The Rest…HERE

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