Department of Public Safety Commission Marshall Fisher says that the State crime lab is severely understaffed. Only two medical examiners are currently working for the state, and by the end of April, DPS Commissioner Marshall Fisher says there will only be one Medical Examiner on staff. However, the shortage is not just happening in Mississippi.
“I am told that there are like 90 to 100 vacancies for ME’s across the United States so we are competing with other people,” said Commissioner Fisher.
Fisher said that the three medical examiners they employed in 2017 at the state crime lab did roughly 1,500 autopsies last year alone.
“We’ve got a backlog right now of autopsies which affects death certificates, life insurance payouts, and investigations,” Fisher said. “Their accreditation outfit is called NAME, which is the National Association of Medical Examiners, they recommend no more than 250 autopsies per year, per ME. Sort of like a correlation between how many hours a truck driver can drive or a pilot can fly. Fatigue sets in, even doctors who are highly trained, smart people. Fatigue; and those autopsies have to be done right.”
Fisher that they are actively recruiting medical examiners and that the state crime lab is one of the most important aspects of the criminal justice system.
Fisher said that while they would like to be able to have eight medical examiners on staff, they are looking to the legislature for the funding to have six ME’s.