The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office will temporarily suspend autopsies in drug and alcohol-related deaths. According to WBEZ.org, the office will also suspend autopsies for those who had preexisting diseases and were known to have used drugs.
These suspended autopsies are a result of staff shortages. Mary Paleologos, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Administration that oversees the Medical Examiner's Office, said postmortem examinations will still be done. That differs from full autopsies, which include an internal examination. The Medical Examiner's Office is currently short six pathologists.
Paleologos said, "It's pretty much come to a head these past few months where there's been a number of resignations for one reason or another." They are looking to fill those positions, but in the meantime, they are eliminating all autopsies that are not absolutely necessary. Performing autopsies in drug and alcohol related has been the Medical Examiner's policy, but it is not required by law.
The office will still perform an autopsy in those cases if the family requests it, or if the medical examiner suspects a threat to public health. The office has done this before, like in the case of the 1995 heat wave in Chicago. Typically, about 55% of the cases coming to the medical examiner's office receive full autopsies.
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