Autopsy Backlog in Iowa causing Problems

I came across a report from KWWL -TV in Iowa the other day that would have really caused problems for me and the families I served if it happened in my area.  And, according to Iowa Funeral Director Steven Corson, it is starting to cause problems for him at the the Kaiser-Corson Funeral Home.

The problem stems from the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office and the backlog of autopsies at that office.  According to the news report, because of the combination  of being a pathologist short a a large number of state-mandated autopsies to do, they cannot give wait times to funeral directors on when the bodies may be released for funeral or cremation services.  Every unattended death in Iowa goes to the State Medical Examiner’s Office.  This includes bodies from several different parts of the state – both violent and non-violent deaths.

According to a quote from Corson in the article, “For us to talk to a family that just lost a loved one, to let them know that it could be a week to ten days before we even plan anything, because we can’t plan anything until we know. . .it’s very uncomfortable.”

Funeral Director Daily take:  Wow!!  I think the state of Iowa needs to get a handle on this.  I cannot imagine telling a family of an unattended death — maybe it is the lady who dies at home alone in her chair at age 90 — that because an autopsy is needed by state regulation, we have to plan the funeral at least a week or ten days out.  It just does not make things any easier and puts the funeral director smack-dab in the middle between the M.E. and the family.

I also think reasonable minds with common goals can get things worked out.  It sounds to me like the Iowa Funeral Director’s Association, the State Medical Examiner’s Office, and the regulatory agency that requires all non-attended deaths to be posted should sit down and come up with a solution.  These are  the times that it is great to have good relationships between the parties and why conventions, continuing education events, and seminars where all parties get together are important.[wpforms id=”436″ title=”true” description=”true”]


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