Last year a record 610 people died of drug overdoses in Cuyahoga County, and so far this year, the number is on pace to be 27 percent higher. Medical examiner’s office administrator Hugh Shannon says there are seven pathologists available to do autopsies now. One pathology fellow will earn certification in June with two more fellows coming on this summer, but he says that is still too few to do the growing job.
“The need at the moment is that doctors can only do so many cases in a single year. And we will use that additional funding to bring in some contract doctors to ease the caseload burden on our staff.”
Shannon says they plan to hire two or three additional pathologists through the end of the year, and if that’s not enough they may go back to the county for additional funding. The medical examiner’s office could lose accreditation if its doctors remain over-burdened.